Successful facilities have invested time talking to Dietary and Support staff to explain this exciting concept, and to get all teams on board regarding how foodservice could be different and better! This step is very important. There might be some resistance, because for some people change is stress. However, by evaluating your current system with staff regarding resident choice, rigidity of the system, wastage and resident contact, it will be easier to convince people that change will be better for everyone.
Meet with all departments, especially Nursing to share the vision. Form a multidisciplinary Food Committee to discuss ideas and concerns about the new system. Allow a safe open arena for staff to get comfortable with the concept, ask questions, and brainstorm together as a team.
Physical layout, multiple dining areas, staffing and type of residents may be factors that should be examined at your facility. Evan at High Care level facilities, the SuzyQ Cart system works well because most residents are still able to communicate in some way (speech, nods of the head, facial expressions, etc.) as to what they want to be served.
Do a Waste Audit of your current meal delivery system to determine actual wastage. Report results back to the Food Committee.
Meet with the Resident-Council Committee to share the concept. Get ideas and feedback from residents as to how they would like to see food service and delivery improved.
Set up an area in or close to the kitchen to store the SuzyQ cart(s) and install electrical outlet(s) to allow the carts to be plugged in for ½ hour prior to meal service. The voltage required is 208V. A licensed electrician should handle installation.
Evaluate your “accessory” serving equipment. You may already have certain pieces. If not, many of these items are a one-time purchase and can be bought through your local Food Service equipment distributor. Assorted 4” and/or 6” deep serving containers work best to hold the food in the steam wells
4” deep inserts for storage in the pull out drawers
Attractive tea/coffee carafes
Large (5 L) attractive crock pots and a tablecloth for the soup cart
Attractive juice jugs
With the Director of Care, change the present job duties to enable the staff to use the SuzyQ Cart System.
Try one meal at a time to get staff and residents used to this new concept. One suggestion is to try breakfast first, and then add lunch and supper at a later date.
Educate and role play with Dietary staff as to how they should verbalize the menu choices to residents. Allow time for residents to make their selection and quantity amount.
Develop a Meal Serving Schedule so that all residents have a turn at being served first or last. The schedule is followed for cereal or soup, main meal and dessert. Beverages can be served at any table, throughout the meal service.
The Food Service Department has to initially review production numbers on a very constant basis, as resident food choices may lean heavily towards one food item over another. As the system gets up and running, this review of production numbers will gradually ease. These reviews are an important step and may require patience by staff and residents, (especially if there is a shortage of one choice), until the production numbers are accurate. This continuous process needs to be monitored by the Food Service Manager other designated staff member.
The use of quantity audit sheets is very helpful in reducing the occurrences of running short of food.
Set up a schedule of regular meetings with residents and staff to discuss the changes and any challenges. Review feedback.
Allow staff and residents three months to adjust to the new food delivery system.
Complete Time & Waste Audits after implementing the SuzyQ cart system, so that comparisons can be made between the old and new systems, and success measured.
Be prepared to hear staff say they don’t want to go back to the old system. Be prepared for higher resident satisfaction, a decrease in food wastage, hotter food, increased staff interaction, better utilization of leftovers, teamwork and cost savings.
“The numbers are eye opening as well,, with improved control and less waste…we have a savings of $90,000 – for a non-profit society this is a massive savings. The savings paid for the extra staffing to serve the food. My plan for this year is to purchase 3 carts and employ them at another site.”
Wayne Maki Executive Chef & Food Service Administrator, Excel Society
“Residents were happier as they had choices. Staff felt more fulfilled being able to offer a more resident focused service. By interacting with the residents every meal, it has allowed them to get to know our residents individually. It has helped foster relationships with the residents in which they talk, laugh or are jus there for each other. It has brought the “humanness” back to a system that was impersonal and task focused. The dining room environment now resembles that of a restaurant and not an institution. The change to a more resident focused food service continues to be an example of how systems can change positively without significant cost increases.”
Cathy Mesner RD – Morgan Place
“A testimony from one of our residents is “I think all of us really like the choice we have about what we eat and how much. I like that we are all served at the same time and the food is hot when it is given to us. I always come to the dining room when we have the SuzyQ cart now.”
Cara Clark Cara Clark, RD, Administrator – Cambridge Place
“Since we started offering our residents choices, we have noticed a reduction in our food cost and waste, for example a drop in our weekly milk order by four-four liter jugs of milk. Our residents enjoy the interaction they have with the staff at meal times, and some ladies even enjoy flirting with our head cook. These changes have allowed us to focus on the resident and to understand how simple gestures of communication, being verbal and/or body are very important to the resident. We have also created a team that is resident focused and understands how communicating and working together benefits not only our residents but us as a whole.
Donna Weiss Administrative Service Coordinator, Echo Lodge Special Care Home
“The patients are really enjoying the New “choice meal service” provided. We only got complaints on our surveys before so getting positive notes from patients is a big improvement. The SuzyQ cart System is working wonderfully, and it is sooo much fun. Can’t believe the patient “happiness”. Thank you.”
Gail Weleschuk Supervisor, Patient Food Services – Tofield Health Centre
“The SuzyQ cart System allowed for improved interaction and relationship between the dietary and nursing staff, as they started to work more together at serving our residents the better. Our food and beverage waste has decreased as well, which means we are saving money. Our cooks for the first time are leaving the kitchen and serving residents direct, which has allowed them more understanding of the needs of our residents. The cart moves very easily, and we love it. The table side dining has allowed the staff to spend time before and after with the resident, engaging them in their meal choice and receiving feedback in the moment. As soon as the blessing for the meal and the staff is complete, the lids come off with a flourish and the steam escapes causing excitement as they anticipate the choices to come. Thank you for your passion and investment in our residents satisfaction.”
Angela Ross-Fehr Manager of Dining Experience, Menno Housing Society