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2020 Year in Review: Healthcare Foodservice

Here are the highlights of our healthcare foodservice blogs from this year.

In the face of a global pandemic, we saw healthcare systems pushed to their limits. As we adapted to this new environment in 2020, we saw a change in how healthcare foodservice is handled, from delivery to sanitation to everything in between. Not only were these new solutions designed to keep patients safe, but healthcare staff safe as well.

Here are the highlights of what we saw transpire in healthcare foodservice this year:

Continue reading 2020 Year in Review: Healthcare Foodservice

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2020 Year in Review: Senior Care Foodservice

Here are the highlights of our senior care foodservice blogs from this year.

Senior care facilities were put on high alert early on during the Coronavirus pandemic. With residents at a higher risk than most, it has been vital for senior care staff to continue to deliver necessary foodservice safely. Meal delivery during COVID-19 has never been as important, and with the right tools, it was being done in a safe, effective manner. The changes we saw over the course of 2020 will no doubt impact how senior care foodservice is handled as we embark on the new year.

Here are the biggest takeaways of the significant changes we witnessed in senior care foodservice in 2020.

Continue reading 2020 Year in Review: Senior Care Foodservice

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How Healthcare Foodservice Leaders Are Responding in 2020

Pressure was placed on healthcare foodservice leaders to develop an unexpected pandemic response plan.

Many have prepared for emergencies like fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, or mass shootings, but a pandemic was not on the list for the near future. Since being prepared is key to any good action plan, a lot of pressure was placed on healthcare foodservice leaders to develop an unexpected pandemic response plan. Nonetheless, they stepped up to the plate and knocked it out of the park with response plans created to anticipate the worst, respond immediately, and adapt to the inevitable changes to come. Circumstances differ from hospital to hospital due to location and outbreak, but food service leaders are working hard to keep providing food to patients and staff. Continue reading How Healthcare Foodservice Leaders Are Responding in 2020

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Did Someone Order Delivery? In-Room Service Gains Traction

In-Room Service Gains Traction Amongst Hospitals & Care Facilities Across The Country

The limitations and closures of gathering points in hospitals due to COVID-19 have impacted in-room service. However, special attention to in-room service was gaining traction well before the pandemic began. Doctors have always said food can be more than fuel for your body, and with the right nutrients, it can help in the healing process too. Some hospitals are using that concept, as well as patient experience, to change the stereotypes of hospital food for the better and improve patient satisfaction.  Let’s take a look at three healthcare facilities in particular that have started to take a more hospitality-inspired approach to in-room service.

UCLA HEALTH SYSTEM

Open 6:45 a.m. until 7:30 p.m., UCLA offers a restaurant ordering system where the kitchen cooks meals on-demand with menus updated to physician requested, plant-based meals with protein optional additions. Regularly scheduled tray service is still available to neuropsychiatry patients, which is why UCLA’s kitchen is separated into two sections to cater to both types of services.

Keeping in mind there is a 90-minute window between mealtimes, UCLA staff alternates between making and sending 25 trays to 1 unit in neuropsychiatric care and cooking and delivering room service tickets. This staggered approach has eliminated many challenges associated with offering both services.

Room service at UCLA is promised to arrive within 45 minutes but averages 28 minutes. What’s their secret? Food lifts.

Each floor has a dedicated cart with a timer for seven minutes. The cart is wheeled into the lift,  sent up to its designated floor, and the patient is immediately notified. To ensure quality, the cart enters into a pantry where hot and cold additions are added just before being taken to the patient, and the meal is delivered with food and drinks at the correct temperatures.

JOHNS HOPKINS HEALTH SYSTEM

John Hopkins offers Hotel-style, on-demand room service to their patients. They name this style of service the Johns Hopkins At Your Request program. Doctors realized there was a lot of food waste when they had patients ordering the day before, resulting in many being unavailable to receive their meals.

The John Hopkins At You Request program gives patients the flexibility to order their meals anytime between 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. and receive it within 60 minutes. To better accommodate nutritional diets prescribed to patients, John Hopkins also provides a nutritional department to help assist in meal decisions. Their diverse menu options are a significant factor in the success of the program.

The freedom to choose between traditional hospital foods like meatloaf and upscale items like salmon makes the patient feel satisfied with their meal experience, even when they don’t order the extravagant items. In fact, the majority stick with the traditional items, while the occasional upscale orders bring comfort to patients and family members who need it.

ST. JUDE CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL

St. Jude’s primary focus is on young patients and their families. Patients aren’t limited to in-hospital care, as many of their outpatients go through treatment at nearby housing sponsored by St. Jude and receive their customized meals there. They use a Combi Oven to deliver quality food within expectations of 30 – 45 minutes. As for their future plans for servie? They’re expected to upgrade their systems to TV-operated ordering services and explore newer cooking technologies. Nonetheless, their specialty is in the services they provide.

Considering the age of their patients, their happiness is a priority. The chef often greets patients with a hug and smile, with meals that are fully specialized to encourage the patient to eat and heal. So much so, that patients have even gone to the kitchen to teach the chefs how to make their food!

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Patients Eat With Their Eyes First

How a food looks tell the patient a lot about the food and the foodservice team accountability and experience. People use the way a food looks to judge the food for freshness and quality. When the food is visually appealing to a patient, you accomplish your mission of providing nourishment for the recovery and healing of your patients.

COLOR, SHAPE, SIZE AND POSITION OF FOOD MATTERS IN VISUAL APPEAL

COLOR: The most impactful eye appeal

  • Break up the colors
  • Enhance the colors
  • Make it “glisten”
  • Keep the colors natural

SHAPE: Ingredients

  • Vary the cuts of ingredients
  • Add textures to the dish

STYLE: Arranging ingredients, plating

  • Traditional – The Y style of plating
  • Modern plating
  • Simplicity

Aroma Strategies:

  • Include variety
  • Add flavor to comfort food
  • Herbs add color, taste and smell
  • Cooking techniques can enhance aroma and experience
  • Be aware of visual placement on the tray, temperature awareness, less is more, easy to handle and maneuver on tray space

For more on this topic, click here to watch Alluserv's last webinar!

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Milliseconds and Millimeters Matter

Ergonomics is an applied science concerned with designing and arranging things people use so that the people and things interact most efficiently and safely — also called biotechnology, human engineering, or human factors. Ergonomics affects all ages, all professions and all aspects of daily living.


Human Factors

Consider these conditions/requirements when evaluating equipment:

The goal is to monitor all work activities that permit the worker to adopt several different, but equally healthy and safe postures. Identify where muscular force has to be exerted, localize it to the largest appropriate muscle groups available. Where motion is performed, target the joints at about mid-point of their range of movement, particularly for the head, trunk, and upper limbs.


Lost or Found $$$

When making a decision to select equipment, one key objective is; get most done in the shortest amount of time in the most efficient manner. There are many nuances that may attribute to a lower price for a piece of equipment however, these attributes may in fact result in a higher Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). Will this specific product increase or decrease:

  • Productivity
  • FTE's
  • Injuries/Call Offs
  • Errors/Mistakes
  • Cleaning Times
  • Maintenance

If any result in an increase, “Houston, we may have a problem.”


Time is money! Distance is time!

If the equipment happens to be “X” millimeters wider/longer/taller/shorter, and, this results in an increase or decrease by “Y” milliseconds to complete a task, what is that cost or gain to the operation?

Although a few mm or ms may appear insignificant initially, an increase, positive or negative, by example, reduce or add 400 milliseconds to complete a task (the time it takes to blink), repeated say, 1,000 times per meal period, that’s 400k milliseconds for the meal period, about 6.7 minutes. 6.7 minutes, no big deal, right? Then, multiply this by three meal periods and that’s 20 minutes per day. Still not a lot of time but you could get quite a bit done with 20 minutes of “found time” each day.

Let’s take this example a bit further. 20 minutes a day translates to 7,300 minutes per year, 122 hours. Over a seven year life-span for the piece of equipment, that totals 850 hours +/-. If the average wage is $15/hr, that’s $12,750. You can add or subtract this from your TCO to help make your decision.

Considering this one example, multiplied by each work station, for multiple tasks per station, and suddenly, you have good reason to look very closely into the ergonomic impact of every piece of equipment.

Use these findings to reduce FTE’s or repurpose work assignments. Either way, you have a “win.”


By The Way

Also, imagine if you could reduce one call-off per year per FTE due to reduction in back injuries, that’s another 56 hours added to your bottom line.

How about one less “call back tray or courtesy tray” per meal period? … that’s $15/day, $450/month, $5,475/year in direct cost savings.


Help

There are solutions, the Alexander Technique, a training program to help individuals to better understand how their bodies react to work/stress and how to avoid habits that negatively impact their well-being.

The right meal assembly set up can reduce minutes and increase time to get meals to patients. Modifiable equipment that works with your people. No one size fits all. Alluserv’s is ready to help! Modifiable tray starter stations, heights and widths for meal delivery carts, tray lines, etc...

http://www.alluserv.com/ContactUs/ContactUs.aspx

Browse our solutions.

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Parsley, Carrot Curls, Radish Flowers, Oh My!

A garnish is an item or substance used as a decoration or embellishment accompanying a prepared food dish or drink. In many cases, it may give added or contrasting flavor or texture. Some garnishes are selected mainly to augment the visual impact of the plate, while others are selected specifically for the flavor they may impart This is in contrast to a condiment, a prepared sauce added to another food item primarily for its flavor. A food item which is served with garnish may be described as being Garni, the French term for 'garnished.' Many garnishes in the past were not intended to be eaten but today is a different culinary playground.


I went to some of the foodservice culinarian leaders and asked them these questions:

  1. Can the food be the garnish?
  2. Or are traditional garnishes still mode of operation?
  3. What does a garnish do for the experience?

Here are their insights:

“In my opinion food should be the garnish in its own edible form. The old form of garnishes are out of trend. You might say, Elvis Parsley is no longer king or has left the restaurant! I prefer to see the plate like an artist palate. For example, a beet carpaccio with fanned out sliced beets with a dollop of goat cheese is eye catching and makes the food more appealing. Customers eat with their eyes and this is precisely why you see so many customers taking food selfies. The top restaurateurs understand "the art of food is from their palate to your palate."


“Food garnishes in their traditional forms are edible, however does a person dining actually eat a piece of parsley on a prepared dish? Not to say that they can’t but most don’t eat the garnish as it hasn’t been appealing or appetizing. If the garnish becomes part of the dish and is the right component of the dish it can enhance the flavor or texture profile when consumed with the dish. For example, I make a braised boneless beef short ribs sliders with garnish of caramelized onions. It can be actually the best dining experiences are when the garnish becomes part of the embellishment of a dish to enhance the customers palate.”


An herb’s blossom tastes like the herb itself. So, thyme blossoms are subtly thyme-flavored; arugula blossoms taste like arugula, with a hint of honeysuckle. In season, look for blossoming herbs at the farmers’ market — or in the vegetable garden. Notice how an ordinary bunch of rosemary or sage is flecked with delicate, perfumed flowers.

Of course, there are other beautiful edible flowers to consider, like calendula and nasturtium and borage and marigold, ready to sprinkle, like fairy dust, as a garnish, or to make your food even more colorful.


Today’s culinary playground is fierce as foodservice venues and chefs try to compete with each other for dining clients and loyalty.

Variety and purpose of garnishes are being reimagined. It needs to become an important component of sustainability as in the past, the garnish in a traditional sense was added as eye appeal then discarded by the customer and not consumed. Waste!! However, if a chef creates a garnish that can be consumed and enhances the customer dining experience, the garnish becomes that add flavor or texture that separates recipes from competitors’ recipes. See pictures slideshow of other ideas to incorporate into your flavor, taste and sight experience. Use your imagination and reach beyond. We eat with our eyes and if it looks and tastes better we can get better nutrition too!

Written by Marsha Diamond, MA, RDN

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Top 10 Reasons Your Facility Should Be Gluten/Allergen Free

10. Raise Awareness – Heightened awareness is critical to the welfare of this population so that they can be served safely by knowledgeable staff and facilities.  We are very passionate about this cause and try to spread the word as much as possible.

9. Fulfill the Need - As demonstrated by the trends and facts, this topic requires greater awareness to meet the needs of the patients, residents and patrons.

8. Ease Your Worries – Putting a formal program into your facility will ease your worries that people can dine safely and have their needs met.  No one wants to see people get sick.

7.  Take Pride – This is a wonderful opportunity to provide a work environment that is topnotch and demonstrates caring and that you have taken the extra step to do the right thing!

6. Instill Confidence – The most important aspect of providing a formal program is that you will instill confidence with the patients, residents and patrons that you know what you are doing and that they should not fear that they will get sick.  In addition, the staff will have a renewed sense of confidence as they have been given the knowledge to do the right thing.

5.  Pro-Active – Be the first and become a role model.

4. Regulatory Compliance – From the start, develop the program so that it will be compliant with the FDA Labeling Laws and other regulatory body standards - federal, state, local, Joint Commission.

3. Well Educated Staff – Knowledge is power which will increase confidence in the patients, residents and patrons, and your staff.  This new program needs to be comprehensive so that it covers all facets including clinical and practical aspects.

2. Change Agent- Start a movement and be a best practice facility for your peers to look up to.  It will be great publicity for your institution

1.  Patient/Patron Safety and Satisfaction!!!!! – Ultimate Goal which can be accomplished with the implementation of a formal gluten/allergen-free food service program following the guidelines presented today.

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5 Food Trends in Healthcare

Bowls

     Eating food from a bowl is comforting and wholesome. Foodservice facilities have come to realize that bowls are a wonderful vessel for more than just soups or cereal. Health care facilities and restaurants alike are utilizing bowls to create portable, comforting meals. Plus, bowls can also provide your customers with a sense of independence. Both from flavor, taste, and even to better person centric care for the physically challenged feeder.


Local Food

     The catchword, "local" has become a symbol of trust. As a result of the internet and social media, consumers are more likely to trust their small local farmer who offers healthy, seasonal foods. Often, food service operators use the names of these local farms in menu marketing.

     Consumers are not the only ones trusting in local food, physicians recognize the preventative health benefits of sustainable food systems. Now, a number of hospitals are using their massive food purchases, which feed both patients and staff, to support local food. Hospitals have a huge purchasing power and by supporting local food, the local economy is strengthened and healthier options are available at the hospital’s food service facility. “Hospitals hope that by modeling good eating habits and supporting local food systems, patients will take good eating habits home and communities will have greater access to fresher, whole foods.”


Chefs

     Hospital food is turning gourmet! Many medical centers have hired executive chefs to upgrade their food service menus, types of foods utilized and preparation techniques.

     Hospitals also hope these higher patient satisfaction rates will influence potential healthcare customers, like those looking for a place to have a baby or get elective surgery. Not only does chef-driven food at hospitals attract these new consumers, but there might be more at stake for hospitals than simply attracting new consumers. Under the Affordable Care Act, federal reimbursement is being linked more and more to patient satisfaction scores.


Condiments from Scratch

     By creating condiments and specialties from scratch, healthcare food service facilities gain a reputation for offering fresh, wholesome food for their patients, plus cultural diversity and ethnic flavorings. Consumers demand authenticity and this trend of making condiments from scratch can have a positive impact on their perception. Plus, the great thing about offering homemade condiments and specialty items is that the production may take place during off hours or may be done off-premise, thus the foodservice operation's workflow is not altered.


Individualistic Delivery

     Healthcare food service facilities are shifting to a more individualistic food service delivery model. The industry is seeing dining trends that are based on providing freshly prepared items, which are driving hospital foodservice operations to migrate from more batch-style cooking to models such as room service. Thus, patients are now given the opportunity to order what they would like to eat, when they are ready to eat. In turn, the shift to individualistic food service delivery has greatly increased the quality and freshness of hospital food. Another wonderful benefit of offering patients’ individualistic food service delivery is that facilities are now able to closely monitor patients with special nutritional requirements or allergies.

     Many healthcare foodservice facilities are offering ‘a la carte’ options. Special diets with a simple philosophy: “fresh, homemade selections minimizing the use of fat and sodium.” They want patients to taste the food, with most menu items being made to order to optimize freshness and minimize waste.

     Senior dining is focusing on individualized approaches too their person centric care approach. Giving each individual what they want from food, flavor, location and timing is being addressed for today’s customers.