Hard to Swallow

Overcooked food at nursing homeThere has been an increasing focus on the dining experience and offering a hotel-style service to residents in aged care homes.  Many providers have emphasised their fresh quality menu. Others have brought in a Chef, new equipment, new crockery, changed dining room layout, etc.

While these strategies are good in their own right, until the whole value stream of the meal service is examined and each part is looked at in relation to the whole, the desired outcome will often not be achieved.

Recently while doing a gemba walk through a facility, I saw this tray of porridge.  The staff understood it was unpalatable and picked out the best to give to residents. Staff said that it always comes out this way, because it goes in the oven to heat for an hour while they are busy with other tasks of preparing breakfast trays and the dining room while the porridge is heating.  They didnt have time to regularly check food in the oven. An alarm sounded when the time was up, and the oven switched to hot hold until the door is opened.

When asked what training they had been offered and undertaken over the past year, they replied that they have regular training on infection control, manual handling and occupational health. There was no training on correct use of equipment or hospitality training despite years in the job. New staff were buddied up to learn habits and shortcuts from others long in the job.

Further investigation uncovered 3 conflicting regeneration methods

  • a hand written laminated note taped to the equipment with standard equipment settings for all meals
  • detailed instructions from the external food supplier for each food product
  • what was told to the staff member by their buddy when they started the job.

What tasks are your staff doing badly with the resources they have been given? How is this impacting on your perception internally and externally?

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