Hospital food service: a comparative analysis of systems and introducing the ‘Steamplicity’ concept
Patient meals are an integral part of treatment hence the provision and consumption of a balanced diet, essential to aid recovery. A number of food service systems are used to provide meals and the Steamplicity concept has recently been introduced. This seeks, through the application of a static, extended choice menu, revised patient ordering procedures, new cooking processes and individual patient food heated/cooked at ward level, to address some of the current hospital food service concerns. The aim of this small-scale study, therefore, was to compare a cook-chill food service operation against Steamplicity. Specifically, the goals were to measure food intake and wastage at ward level; ‘stakeholders’ (i.e. patients, staff, etc.) satisfaction with both systems; and patients’ acceptability of the food provided. Method
The study used both quantitative (self-completed patient questionnaires, n = 52) and qualitative methods (semi-structured interviews, n = 16) with appropriate stakeholders including medical and food service staff, patients and their visitors. Results
Patients preferred the Steamplicity system overall and in particular in terms of food choice, ordering, delivery and food quality. Wastage was considerably less with the Steamplicity system, although care must be taken to ensure that poor operating procedures do not negate this advantage. When the total weight of food consumed in the ward at each meal is divided by the number of main courses served, at lunch, the mean intake with the cook-chill system was 202 g whilst that for the Steamplicity system was 282 g and for the evening meal, 226 g compared with 310 g. Conclusions
The results of this small study suggest that Steamplicity is more acceptable to patients and encourages the consumption of larger portions. Further evaluation of the Steamplicity system is warranted.