WEDNESDAY, APRIL 11: The days of cold hospital dinners and steaming vats of watery stew seem to be a thing of the past.
The stereotypical image of ward grub being slopped into plastic bowls has been replaced by conveyor belts and temperature regulated pods at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital.
And the latest in-house surveys show that the new system is going down well with the patients.
Now the meal trays are put together swiftly and methodically on a central assembly line before they are slotted into four-wheeled holding pods that keep the hot food hot and the cold food cold.
Meanwhile, mini-buffet carts, called Mulitgens, are filled up with hot and cold food, so patients can choose what they want to eat.
The pods, which each contain 24 meals, are wheeled out of the kitchen to patients on the acute wards like the Intensive Care Unit.
And the mini-buffet carts head to the children’s ward, the maternity ward and the ward for patients with Alzheimer’s and related illnesses so they get more of a choice.
Lynn Fubler, Manager of Food Services said: “Our new Burlodge system means we can recapture the correct temperatures lost during tray line assembly.
“Patients are happier because they receive their hot food hot and cold food cold, and the presentation of meals are no longer institutional but bring a more cheerful atmosphere to the table.
“Nursing’s commitment to ensuring that patients are prepared to receive their food, at point of delivery promotes the concept that a patient’s mealtime experience is often the high light of their hospitalexperience.
“It also promotes nutrition as an essential part of their recovery treatment.”
Since the new food system was first brought in a year ago the percentage of inpatients happy with their meals has gone from 61 per cent to 66 per cent.
And last December’s patient satisfaction survey for the Meal Index earned an 80 per cent score for meal temperature and quality, which was up from previous scores of around 64 per cent.
A team of 62 staff work in the dietary department and are responsible for sending out hundreds of meals to the hospital patients everyday as well as supplying the cafeteria.
The new system has meant plastic tableware has been replaced China plates and cups.
Nurses have also adjusted their daily tasks and breaks to accommodate meal delivery system.
And dietary’s porters and aides start times have been adjusted to allow them to do extra work on the new system.
Granville Russell, Clinical Director for the Medical and Surgical Wards said: “I would often be stopped by dietary workers who would voice their concern about patients not being ready for meals or the inability to place trays on over-bed tables because of clutter.
“Over time, dietary and nursing employees met to discuss the problems and to figure out the best way forward.”
“To resolve these challenges, front line staff, including nursing aides and orderlies, were asked what they thought could be done.
“We consulted them on the best way to overcome problems around patients not being ready for meals.
“Our first focus was breakfast and we decided one change would be for auxiliary staff to begin their morning shift by preparing patients for breakfast.
“This would include positioning them and ensuring over-bed tables were clear and placed in front of the patient so they would be ready for breakfast.”