The difference between feeding and eating

Friday 27 July 2018

A research study conducted at Mater has demonstrated that a room service model for patient meals better meets patient nutritional needs and significantly reduces plate waste.

Malnutrition is a key issue associated with poor clinical outcomes in hospital. Patients who suffer from malnutrition can experience poor outcomes including increased length of stay and clinical complications in hospital. Maintaining adequate nutritional intake is an important part of recovery. 

Following the implementation of Australia's first room service model in Mater Private Hospital, Mater implemented an Australian first room service model in a public hospital in 2016. Prior to implementing room service, patients chose their meal on a paper menu, up to a day in advance of collecting their meals.

Mater Director of Dietetics and Foodservices ,Sally McCray led a team to analyse key patient and organisational outcomes including patient nutritional intake, plate waste, patient satisfaction and total meal costs with the room service program and the results have been published in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics and the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

The results demonstrate that the room service model not only provides patients with fresh, quality food of their choice delivered within 45 minutes of ordering, it monitors meal choices for every patient, ensuring they only receive options that are compatible with their medical condition and requirements as well as measuring nutritional intake and plate waste for each patient meal.

“Room service is a very patient centric, customer focused model which allows patients the flexibility to choose what they feel like eating, when they feel like eating it, leading to improved clinical and organisational outcomes.”  Ms McCray said.

Ingredients from the room service menu have been coded into a system database so that the call centre can ensure that the patient’s order is suitable to their specific nutritional requirements.

Analysis also showed an increase in patient’s total energy and protein intake as well as an increase in percent of nutritional requirements met, with patients meeting between 78-99 per cent of their energy and protein requirements met respectively. Total average plate waste decreased from 30 per cent to 17 per cent, and total patient food costs decreased by 28 per cent per annum. Importantly, patient satisfaction with the meal service increased with percent of patients rating the food service good to very good increasing from 75 per cent to 98 per cent.

For patients undergoing surgery the new room service system allows the flexibility needed to ensure they receive appropriate nutrition and food intake despite surgery fasting schedules, and the often sensitive palate after surgery. Oncology patients can have rapidly changing food preferences due to their sense of taste changing in response to chemotherapy treatments. Nausea is also a common side effect of chemotherapy, and can impact on a patient’s ability to eat adequate nutrition. The flexibility provided by room service allows patients to choose when and how much they eat around the impact of their treatments, improving clinical outcomes.

Mater has received a number of awards for implementing the room service model including: