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New focus on nutrition for patients staying in hospital

25 July 2012

Ashford and St. Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is placing increased emphasis on good nutrition for patients staying in hospital, with the launch of new ‘Essential Goodness’ menus and food, in partnership with catering contractor OCS.

The improved food for inpatients is part of a new contract encompassing all catering for patients staying in hospital, outpatients, visitors and staff.

With increased focus on nutrition and choice, the main ‘Essential Goodness’ menus use symbols to highlight options that are healthy eating, high energy and part of your 5 fruit and vegetables a day, as well as soft and vegetarian options. All main courses, vegetables and fresh fruit are suitable for diabetics.

In addition to the main menu, OCS has developed a number of specialist a la carte menus offering more choice to patients with specific dietary requirements, for example Halal, gluten-free, low potassium and puree.

Said Deputy Chief Executive Valerie Bartlett: “Our main aim in bringing all catering services into one contract was to improve the quality of food for patients staying in hospital, and ensure that we are providing the best nutrition to patients to support their treatment and care. “

The new menus have been developed in conjunction with the Trust’s Chief Dietitian Sarah Havard, who explained: “Good nutrition is really important in helping patients to recover so they can go home quicker, and our new menus will help patients choose the right foods for their individual needs. What’s unusual is that we are now offering a la carte menus to people on diets with specific requirements, giving them greater choice and variety in their food.”

The ‘Essential Goodness’ branding has been added to catering staff uniforms, trolleys and crockery so that inpatient catering services are clearly recognisable across the Trust.

Dorothy Moxon, a recent patient on Kingfisher ward, gave Essential Goodness the thumbs up: “The new menus are very good. It’s not easy catering for lots of different tastes and there’s always plenty of variety. I like old-fashioned food with lots of gravy – but the Hungarian goulash is good as well!”

Also proving popular are newly-introduced birthday cakes, to help patients staying in hospital celebrate their special day. This is in addition to ‘Welcome home’ packs, containing food and drink essentials and supplied free of charge to elderly and vulnerable patients who may not have support to shop for food following their discharge from hospital.

New Retreat Cafés have opened in St. Peter’s and Ashford main entrances, with longer opening hours at St. Peter’s from 7.30am-7pm seven days a week, while Ashford’s Retreat opens 8am-3pm Monday to Friday. The new cafés offer fresh brewed coffee and a wide range of grab-and-go options, for example fresh salads, sushi and hot and cold wraps.

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