Hospital food service managers have a number of unique challenges to face in order to create a successful, efficient and attractive dining room and kitchen. On the one hand, operators must strive to create a warm and welcoming environment while maintaining high levels of customer and patient satisfaction. But on the other hand, managers must deal with their cafeterias being located inside of healthcare facilities, making them vulnerable to the various illnesses, infections and other health issues that customers are regularly exposed to. Because of this, food service management in hospitals needs to take special care to boost its sanitary practices.
While it’s essential that managers look into the hygiene behind their own practices and employee habits, focusing on hygienic customer practices is also necessary. By encouraging patrons to help clean up after themselves and prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses throughout the food service establishment, operators can ensure greater health and safety for everyone under their roof. Here are a few tips for managers to keep in mind about customer hygiene.
Only let employees handle food
Food service managers working in hospital environments only have so much control over the actions of their customers. However, it can be much easier to regulate employee behavior in order to maximize sanitary practices. Because of this factor, managers should avoid putting out unpackaged food items for customers to peruse while filling up their plates.
While it might be more convenient for patrons to grab their own bread, fruit or salads instead of waiting for an employee to help them, this can also increase the chances that germs will spread from one customer to another. Staff members wearing gloves and abiding by organizational hygiene standards are far less likely to pass on germs by handing customers their food as they make their way to the checkout area.
Hang up signage emphasizing the importance of good hygiene
Most people are aware of the benefits of practicing good hygiene while in a food service setting, much less one located in a hospital environment. However, there will always be those unaware individuals who neglect to wash their hands, cover their faces when they sneeze or cough openly around others. All of these minor hygiene slips could easily spell trouble for others in a food service operation, especially with people with weak immune systems or other health issues dining in the area.
To help encourage all patrons – from doctors to visiting family members – to maintain a high level of sanitation in a hospital dining room, managers should consider placing informative signs in key locations of the facility. These displays can offer information about washing hands in the bathroom, returning used plates and utensils to the dishwashing area and throwing away uneaten food items. Signs educating visitors about the dangers of spreading germs and keeping the general area clean can go a long way in keeping the space safe.
Provide plenty of sanitary products for customers to use
Once customers understand the importance of hygiene in a hospital food service environment, managers can continue to encourage clean behavior by offering a variety of sanitary products for their use. Customers can actively contribute to keeping a food service operation sanitized when they’re armed with the proper tools and knowledge.
For example, providing free-standing stations that dispense hand sanitizer can be a great way for patrons to kill germs as they are entering and leaving the dining area. Similarly, disinfecting sanitary wipes can be an effective way to remove germs while also washing away sticky residue left over from saucy meals. Of course, providing plenty of napkins will also keep spilled food from becoming an issue for customers and staff members.