The recently released annual report from the Office of the Auditor General of Ontario for 2019 outlines areas for improving meal service in the province’s 626 long-term care homes, and OMNI Health Care is responding to these aspects of the report.
Nutritional care departments in long-term care homes work hard to marry residents’ dietary preferences and requests while providing them meals that meet the nutritional requirements outlined in Canada’s Food Guide.
Canada’s Food Guide, which promotes healthy eating habits for Canadians, is at the centre of all menu planning for OMNI’s 18 long-term care homes. However, residents also have the right to eat the foods they want to be served, and this creates a balancing act for nutritional care departments, says OMNI Health Care operations manager of nutrition and food service Chris Weber.
Even still, OMNI’s nutritional care departments strive to meet residents’ individual needs. Nutritional care teams also work with food suppliers and purchasing groups to help deliver meals that are nutritious for residents while meeting their personal choices, he adds.
“We are always trying to add nutrient-dense menu items such as plant-based proteins and legumes; unfortunately, these menu options tend not to be popular, but we are always redeveloping these recipes and trying new varieties,” Weber says.
Food quality is of utmost importance in OMNI home kitchens, Weber says. Given the fact that high-quality meal service is a top priority for residents and their families, made-from-scratch cooking has been encouraged for many years at OMNI Homes, and an abundance of time and resources have been invested in this, he adds.
“OMNI has taken this very seriously for a long time, and we are proud of what we are able to accomplish in our homes,” Weber says.
There are other initiatives OMNI’s nutritional care departments are involved with to enhance the quality of meal service.
For example, some homes have built their own gardens to grow fresh produce, which has been successful at encouraging residents to eat more vegetables as well as participate in the cultivation process.
Plating with Pride and Dress the Dish, two OMNI initiatives that focus on the concept that people “eat first with their eyes,” has resulted in nutritional care teams creating meals presented attractively, incorporating creative garnishes to make meals more appealing.
OMNI also keeps a close watch on the quality of food served by conducting regular quality audits weekly as well as annual resident satisfaction surveys.
When new menus are implemented bi-annually, homes engage with their residents’ council to gather input and feedback to enhance meal quality, Weber says.
Each home’s residents’ council is also invited to provide nutritional care teams with feedback in a formal setting each month. Feedback is then implemented to encourage high-quality meal service, he notes.
Nutritional care managers, cooks, nutritional care aides and personal support workers are ever-present in dining rooms during meal service to ensure food quality and promote intake as well.
“We are always in the dining rooms; we are always listening to residents,” Weber says. “From our standpoint, we are doing everything we can each day – and we do it well. We are perpetually in the process of making improvements.”
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