Western Leader : January 20th 2012
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Photos: HINERANGI VAIMOSO Happy camper: Phillip Izett from Henderson Heights has only good feedback about the food at Waitakere Hospital. By HINERANGI VAIMOSO A few nights in hospital these days are very different to what patient Phillip Izett remembers from 40 years ago. Especially when it comes to the food. ‘‘You’d just get what you were given and that was that,’’ he says. ‘‘You’ve actually got choice these days which is great.’’ Hospital food has copped flak for decades, often loosely compared to the likes of school dormitory or even prison food. ‘‘Our plates are always clean when they get picked up so the food must be good,’’ he says and he takes a hearty bite into his chicken roll. Also on his plate when the Western Leader visited is a soup to warm up his insides, a banana cake as a sweet treat and a banana. ‘‘It’s always fresh and there’s always an assortment so there’s plenty to choose from.’’ Waitemata food services manager Vicky Campbell says the attitude people have toward hospital food these days is a mentality based on a myth they want to banish. She says while the menu may have been one dimensional decades ago, our nutritional needs and preferences have changed. ‘‘Things have changed over the years. Instead of custard and tinned fruit, people would much rather fresh fruit and they don’t want to see jelly and icecream all the time,’’ she says. ‘‘You just couldn’t get away with giving people all the same meal three times a day because there are so many different dietary needs and we need to cater to everyone.’’ Gluten free diets, dairy free diets, allergies, low sugar diets and low salt diets are just some of the allowances staff have to make when deciding on the menu. About 200 meals go out of the Waitakere Hospital kitchen, where it’s all pre- pared, every service. That adds up to roughly 21,000 meals a month. As well as the base menu, there are a total of 25 modi- fied menus designed to meet special needs. Textures are different for those with swallowing diffi- culties. There are special renal diets and a paediatric menu for children. There are also high protein and high calorie diets for malnourished patients. Ms Campbell says cultural diversity also plays a part when selecting dishes. A menu will run on a three- week cycle and will only go to print after careful consider- ation from Mrs Campbell and dieticians to ensure meals meet Health Ministry guidelines by including a suf- ficient amount of energy, pro- tein, fibre and vitamin C. Ms Campbell says food plays just as much of a role as medicine when it comes to a patient’s recovery by bringing up their energy levels and boosting their immune sys- tem. ‘‘We’ll always have snacks for women in the maternity ward and we’ll always have morning tea and afternoon tea for the elderly people because they need to keep their intake up and for eld- erly people, it can be a long time between meals when they’re used to snacking at home,’’ she says. ‘‘Kids can be tough. Some- times a kid will not eat unless they get to eat chips. It’s not the most healthy option, no, but our main priority is to make sure that they are eat- ing something.’’ Mrs Campbell says when you’re not well, you want familiar food but familiar food means different things to a child, a pregnant mum and a frail 90-year-old. Having said that, she says they seem to get the balance right and often receive com- plimentary feedback. ‘‘We always get good feedback and we’re con- stantly encouraging people to give us feedback through surveys which people like to do,’’ she says. ‘‘The only time you get bad feedback is when you get the order wrong so we really focus on getting that right. ‘‘The service is always good and it has to be because that’s what makes all the differ- ence.’’ Seasons are even taken into account at Waitakere Hospital with a special Christmas menu including ham and turkey.
January 19th 2012
January 24th 2012