Getting your patients to eat is vital to their overall health and ability to recover, but making sure the food and presentation are appealing is crucial to getting someone to want to eat in the first place. In recounting her facility’s successful meal service score increase, from an underwhelming 38%, to an astounding 93%, in just five years, Danielle Jensen, R.D., director of food and nutrition at Jackson County Memorial Hospital, even mentioned that “people eat with their eyes first.” It’s just a fact that elevating tray presentation makes food more appealing to patients, which subsequently increases their appetite, nutrient intake, and likelihood of a more rapid and stable recovery. Reap the benefits of better patient health and satisfaction in your hospital by taking a moment to review and take advantage of some of the most successful tricks previously incorporated by other innovative healthcare institutions.
Pay Attention to the Details
The key to elevating tray presentation, which all other tricks fall under, is simply paying attention to even the smallest details. From the placement of each item and utensil on the tray, to the choice of colors used while creating meals, it all must be planned ahead of time to optimally catch the eye and provide ease for the patient. Something as simple as placing a patient’s utensils and cup/mug at the bottom of the tray, for better access, can exponentially enhance their mealtime experience. Patients staying in hospitals are often weak and unlikely to even want to eat anyway, so making sure that everything on their tray is designed and coordinated to appeal to them is essential for enticing them despite their innate hesitation. Another important tip is to not overwhelm your patients with food, meaning don’t overcrowd the plate. Keep it clean and simple with healthy, fresh, colorful ingredients that will draw the eye. Use real utensils, unless a patient’s condition prohibits them, matching place settings, and edible garnishes. For patients on specialized liquid diets, make your typical meal options compatible with their consumption needs, and elevate the presentation to the best of your ability. Make sure your meals look how you advertise them. If you offer fresh vegetables, make sure they look and taste fresh and not like they are from a can. You want to always be exceeding your patients’ expectations and redefining the way your community views “hospital food.” For former restaurateur, turned supervisor of patient foodservices at the University of Missouri Hospital, Rocky Galloway, it’s about “bringing restaurant sensibility to hospital cooking.”
For additional flair you can add your own department logo onto all your trays, napkins, menus, and other mealtime necessities, to brand your new efforts, or even incorporate nutrition software and other state-of-the-art technologies, like our various applications at Vision Software, to increase your diet office’s efficiency. If and how you choose to utilize these methods is up to you, but one thing’s for certain, these tips can increase your hospital’s meal service scores, just as surely as our various software applications at Vision Software can boost your HCAHPS scores. Don’t miss out on this great, yet virtually effortless, opportunity to prove you care and put your patients first. Call 629.777.8989, or fill in the free consultation form in the sidebar, to learn more about how our software can positively impact the lives of the patients and visitors you service every day.