Whoever still believes that hospital food is rubbish hasn’t been to South West Health Facilities for a while.
The SWHHS has just introduced a new four-week cyclical menu that’s taken more than two years to develop and it’s not only winning high praise for being, well, yummy- It’s healthy. The new standardized menus are being rolled out to all inpatient and aged care health facilities across the South West.
South West Hospital and Health Service Coordinator Operational Services Joel Richters says the plan has been to develop a new menu that could be delivered consistently. “It needed to be the latest high nutritional and dietary standard and – just as importantly –be appetizing.”
“So, over the past couple of years, we developed a detailed 209-page recipe book that sets out each menu item, shows exactly how to prepare it and provides a nutritional analysis for each one.”
So now there’s a basic four-week menu cycle. Mr Richters says while breakfasts are largely similar each day, there’s quite different meals available for lunch and dinner on each day of the four – week period. “So, on a Monday of Week 2 of the cycle, right across the health service, the main meal for lunch will be lamb and tomato casserole, with honey mustard chicken as the main meal item for dinner.”
“But there are numerous variations and options also available for patients with special dietary requirements and also vegetarian options, as well as the standard main meal items.” Mr Richters said the health service had trailed the new menu program at Roma and Charleville between September last year and January this year.
“We then made some adjustments based on feedback from consumers and local kitchen and health facility staff, as well as our health service nutritionist and dietitians.’’ he said. “Once we had finalized the menus and the recipes, one of our senior cooks then visited every single inpatient and aged care facility in our region to work one on one with local cooks and kitchen staff to ensure they were all trained to prepare and deliver the menu items to the same consistent standard everywhere.”
In essence, what it ‘boils down to’, is that if it’s shepherd’s pie for lunch on Wednesday of Week 1, that shepherd’s pie will be made and cooked in exactly the same way, whether you are at Roma, or Charleville, St George, or elsewhere.
And the outcome?
Well Mr Richters says the proof of the pudding…so as to speak…“The feedback we’ve had so far is that people in our inpatient and aged care facilities are very happy with the new menus and the extensive variety and consistent standard of meals on offer. That’s very pleasing to all of us who have been involved in what has been a very major project for the health service over the past couple of years.”