Food Service & Nutrition - Volume 1 No.2 - 13
will be around. Some questions for the
Food Manager to ask are: what is the track
record of the equipment, and how many
installs do they have? If comparing products, are all components really the same
(such as castors, quality of steel, electrical,
options)? If the equipment breaks down, is
there local quick service? Are parts easily
obtained? What is the warranty? What
support goes with the product? What education programs/classes are available to
support the Food Manager in educating
the facility staff? Is there phone, email,
staff training manual available with the
product? Changing the philosophy and
culture at a facility requires experience
and knowledge and this can be part of
the support provided with the equipment
purchased. Ensure you are asking the right
questions of your vendor and you get the
support you will need.
Having the right equipment is critical but it is just part of the change.
It is the implementation aspect that
requires strong supportive leadership
from all departments, patience, vision
and support from industry experts. If
you are interested in moving towards
self-directed dining, here are the Top 10
ideas to help you along:
1. Catch the vision of self-determined
meal service. Become familiar
with the Pioneer Network Dining
Standards to supplement your licensing requirements.
2. Start an Enhanced Dining Experience
committee and brainstorm ideas for
great meal service, share best practices, current frustrations, etc. It is
recommended to have staff from all
departments represented to ensure
good dialogue, as well as family and
3. Distribute an anonymous survey by
having it with staff pay cheques,
family financial statements, and
involve the Activity department
personal with the residents' feedback. Create a survey in which staff,
family and residents can honestly
comment on the dining experience
(scale 1-10). If done anonymously,
folks tend to be more authentic with
their answers, and then share results
Moving away from tray
service, or pre-plate
servery style, to a flexible
service works best if you
have the right tools.
at the Dining Committee, leadership,
board/owners, and staff to acknowledge what really needs work.
Do a waste audit. Collect, measure,
document, and take photos of how
much money is going in the garbage with food waste every meal.
Sometimes a few photos can really
demonstrate to the leadership team
where your food dollars are going
(probably in the garburator!) and
there are funds there to buy good
equipment instead. Often the first
year of less food waste pays for the
new equipment in itself.
Staff education - webinar classes,
best practices, learn what are other
facilities in your area doing, speak
with industry experts are all helpful
tools to help you change the culture.
There are many culture change tools
on-line to tap into. Invest some time
and energy looking outside of the
four walls of your facility and learn
how others do it.
Start a networking group of Food
Managers in your area if possible,
and collaborate ideas.
Purchase the right equipment; food
carts/wagons, correct size inserts that
are going to last for years and often pay
for themselves with less food waste.
For example, often we are accustomed
to using three or four steam wells to
hold all the food textures of puree,
minced, chopped and regular, as well
as the alternative choices. Instead use
deep, narrow inserts - a 2½" pan holds
17 cups of food but so does a 6" deep
1/4 insert. You might need more deep,
narrow inserts pans to fit the textures
8. Have a dedicated protected meal hour
in which all hands are on deck, and
adjust job routines to reflect this
(dietary, nursing, activity etc.).
Often it is the same number of hands
on deck required, but it is more
clearly laid out on who does what
task, and in what order so the flow
of the dining room goes smoothly.
This might require buy-in support
from your leadership team.
9. Be patient - changing one's meal
service is not for the faint of heart.
It takes leadership, vision, dedication, and patience. Generally, it
takes three to six months to get
everyone used to a new better,
10. Have the leadership team show up
regularly in the dining room serving
tea/coffee and connecting with others. This is not just a "breeze in and
out in five minutes" task, but being
present during the protected meal
hour on a weekly basis. This demonstrates commitment from upper
management to residents, family and
staff that a positive dining experience is valued and honoured.
Recognizing your facility's meal service delivery challenges, reviewing Best
Practices from research, having the right
equipment & education support, and having the support from a committed leadership team to the process of culture change
are steps to make the Dining Experience
a rewarding one!
Dining Practice Standards: Pioneer Network
Food & Dining Clinical Standards (2011).
Suzanne Quiring is a
Registered Dietitian, CSNM
member and is the President
of SuzyQ Menu Concepts.
She invented the SuzyQ cart
System and supports care facilities throughout
North America towards changing their meal
service to a self-directed dining model with the
SuzyQ cart (Russell Food Equipment). She had
the honor of presenting at the 2016 National
CSNM conference. www.hotfoodcart.com
or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
F O O D S E RV I C E & N U T R I T I O N