Riverview NCM’s visit to Almonte Country Haven provides ideas to enhance meal service

Riverview Manor nutritional care manager Neil MacDonald (left) and Almonte Country Haven nutritional care manager Dave Benn (right) are pictured here in the Almonte kitchen Feb. 27.

Neil MacDonald says he is impressed with how the home is able to prepare so much from-scratch cooking for residents

Neil MacDonald says a key benefit to being a nutritional care manager (NCM) in an OMNI Health Care long-term care home is that there are opportunities to visit sister homes to learn how others are improving residents’ quality of life through meal service and incorporate those learnings.

The OMNIway recently travelled with Neil, the NCM at Riverview Manor, and Chris Weber, OMNI’s operations manager of nutrition and food service, to Almonte Country Haven to spend a day observing how the home’s nutritional care team is able to prepare nearly every menu item they serve from scratch.

If you ask long-term care residents what’s the most important aspect of quality of life in their home, they will likely tell you it’s meal service. Almonte Country Haven residents also have a strong preference for homemade cooking, so the home’s nutritional care team is committed to delivering that service.

By observing NCM Dave Benn and his team at Almonte Country Haven, Neil says he learned about two important processes that give kitchen staff the time to prepare so much from-scratch cooking: preparing meals for several menu cycles and efficient storage practices.

Dave told Neil that Almonte Country Haven’s nutritional care team always prepares residents’ meals ahead and makes enough food for up to three menu cycles. To achieve this, the kitchen needs to make efficient use of storage space, something else Neil says impressed him about his visit to Almonte.

Neil told Dave that Almonte Country Haven has the same refrigerator and freezer sizes as Riverview Manor but also has less dry-storage space, so he plans to incorporate some of Dave’s strategies at Riverview to improve the use of space.

“The efficiency is very high here,” Neil told Dave. “Building those systems didn’t happen overnight, but I would like to try to bring back (to Riverview Manor) as much of this as I can.”

After visiting Almonte Country Haven, Neil told The OMNIway that his time at the Lanark County long-term care home was “a really great opportunity” to learn from another NCM.

“Better storage systems and prior preparation ultimately achieves in Dave’s kitchen (his team’s) ability to make more from-scratch cooking, and that is ultimately what we should be trying to achieve,” he said.

“I hope that we can share this through not just the other long-term care homes, but also through our larger network and bring (these ideas) into health-care and long-term care cooking.”

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