Hospitality services within health care were in the spotlight at the Institute of Hospitality in HealthCare’s 35th annual conference.
There three-day ‘Challenging Expectations Towards the Future’ conference, held between Monday and Wednesday at Country Club Tasmania, was attended by about 150 delegates from across Australia and overseas.
University of Wollongong associate professor Dr Karen Walton spoke about the importance of delivering nutrition to elderly people in care who could be at risk of malnutrition.
Dr Walton said older patients and residents often required considered meals due to weights loss and smaller appetites.
“[We need to find] how we can maximise their intakes … for that reason we encourage people to snack more frequently,” Dr Walton said.
“Dietitians and food services working together is my recommendation [for successful outcomes],” she said.
“Getting that customer feedback is really critical to finding out what they really like, and what they don’t like.”
She said the issue was increasingly important as the population continued to age.
“Older adults are over-represented in hospitals and therefore [there’s] a real need to be consciously aware of their needs,” she said.
Dr Walton said care needed to be given to how food and beverage is packaged for elderly patients, as they could struggle to open it, which could act as a barrier.
Launceston General Hospital food services manager Dale Anderson said hospital food had “come along way in the last 20 years”.
“Many years ago, it was not very nice … but people have to realise to get 380 meals to eight different locations on four different levels all at one time, it’s not easy,” Mr Anderson said.
Mr Anderson, who is the IHHC national vice president and Tasmania chairman, has worked at the LGH for 29 years, and became a life-member of the IHHC at the conference.
He said the industry’s knowledge of food intolerance and allergies had greatly increased.