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Health care trends: The delivery room
Ten years ago, it would have been practically unheard of to write or read a restaurant review of a hospital cafeteria in the newspaper or online. Today, however, it’s a different story. Review sites like Yelp.ca and TripAdvisor.ca allow users to rate and review practically any place that serves food. What’s more, social media sites and blogs give everyone who comes in contact with your health care organization’s cafeteria a tool to become a raving fan or a ranting critic.While your goal as a health care organization is certainly not a culinary one, negative reviews can reflect poorly on your organization. In some cases, negative reviews could even sway those patients with a choice in care to make alternative arrangements. What’s more, a commitment to quality care encompasses every touch point a patient has with your organization, including the care put into serving meals to patients and their families.

Take a look at these tips from other health care organizations on how to improve the dining experience at your hospital, clinic or nursing home today:

  • Add some ambience
    Wanting to avoid the boring mess hall with white walls and bland food stereotype that many hospital cafeterias have come to define, the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary has jazzed things up a bit. The spacious open-concept cafeteria features a breathtaking view of the Rocky Mountains and a glass-enclosed patio.Increasingly, hospitals everywhere are following the same cue—trading out the cafeteria for an actual restaurant setting within the health care organization. Menus are still compiled by staff dieticians and nutritionists, but the atmosphere is more welcoming.

Try swapping out paper cups for ceramic mugs, offering butter mints with every receipt or using branded napkins to mimic the feel of a restaurant environment.

  • Incorporate an eye for design
    When the Pembroke Regional Hospital decided to renovate its cafeteria, it went for a modern approach, with a sleek, user-friendly design.The revamped cafeteria includes cool features like a smoothie bar, a pizza display and a specialized coffee bar. The hospital hopes that the improved ambience and wider selection will help attract more patrons and elevate the cafeteria to a break-even position.

Consider incorporating colourful banners and signage to aid in the flow of the cafeteria layout and design or to show menus in an aesthetically pleasing way.

  • Offer organic and healthier food options
    According to a recent University of California – Davis report, “Serving better food advances hospitals’ missions to promote and protect health, especially in light of widespread, chronic nutrition-related illness such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.”The cafeteria at Campbellford Memorial Hospital in Ontario takes healthy food seriously. Two years ago, it overhauled its offerings to focus more on good-for-you fare like salads and whole grains, and less on fatty cafeteria staples like cake and fries. Visitors craving sweet treats can still get them – they’ll just have to hunt harder as they are no longer displayed prominently.

Communicate your organization’s dedication to healthy food choices while adding to the dining experience—and keep nutrition-themed colouring books on hand for young diners. Health care dining doesn’t have to be bland—spice things up today in order to make your organization’s meal service part of the customer experience that everyone raves about.

“Hospital food never tasted so good.”
The Daily Observer. Web. 7 Mar. 2011.

Kovner, Guy. “This Is Hospital Food? | PressDemocrat.com.” Santa Rosa News, Weather, Sports and Business | PressDemocrat.com | The Press Democrat. 19 June 2010. Web. 24 Feb. 2011.

“Campbellford hospital food goes healthy.” Northumerland News. Web. 11 Mar. 2009.

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