Friday 30 September 2016

How one hospital turned around its menus

Published 02/11/2015 | 02:30

Patient Eileen Allen, from Lucan, in the Coombe with Fiona Dunleavy, senior dietician in paediatrics and women’s health. Photo: Damien Eagers
Patient Eileen Allen, from Lucan, in the Coombe with Fiona Dunleavy, senior dietician in paediatrics and women’s health. Photo: Damien Eagers

Hospital food has suffered from its image of plates full of sloppy mashed potato and soggy vegetables - but growing numbers of patients are now demanding more.

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When one patient in the Coombe maternity hospital posted a photo of dried-out wedges and over-cooked sausages on Twitter, it prompted a review of its menus, which has led to a turnaround.

Fiona Dunleavy, the Coombe's senior dietitian in paediatrics and women's health, said: "We reduced the fat content in menus. We found there were quite a lot of fatty foods being served.

"For instance, there was a dish that was referred to as a mixed grill. But it was really fried. It is still available to a limited amount, but it had been regularly on the menu.

"We stopped serving potato wedges because they were deep fried and the sausage rolls because they did not have a nutritional value."

The Coombe serves up 500 meals a day to its female patients and is part of the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group.

Ms Dunleavy pointed out it does not face the added issue of having to look after patients in acute hospitals, who would include people having difficulty swallowing after a stroke.

As well as pregnant women, new mums and babies to cater for, the hospital also has patients who undergo gynaecological surgery and are recuperating.

The decisions on menus are backed up by the views the hospital gets from patients through regular questionnaires, she added.

Patients who need a gluten-free diet highlighted how there was just one toaster on the wards. It was used for regular and gluten-free bread, leading to possible cross-contamination.

They now have their own separate toaster.

The hospital used to have a lot of ham and pork on the menu - but now offers more chicken and fish, including salmon.

It has the advantage of cooking the food in its own kitchens rather than buying it in frozen, giving more control over its dishes.

Irish Independent

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