Heart of England experiment puts patient choice at the heart of meal service

Moffat V-Gen trolleys facilitate radical system

Moffat's V-Gen at the Heart of England TrustHeart of England Foundation Trust has a system where patients chose their meal at point of service, on the ward, rather than by filling in menu forms in advance.  Helping facilitate this system is a fleet of Moffat V-Gen regen trolleys. 

Each day patients are given a choice of three hot main meals, at lunch and dinner, as well as salad and sandwiches and a selection of hot and cold desserts that are served from trolleys on the ward.  The V-Gen trolleys, which have both ovens and refrigerators, are used to regen hot food, store cold food and serve – patients are encouraged to come and see what’s on offer to select their choice, those who are bedbound receive a bedside service. The Ward Hostess asks the patient what they would like to eat, knowing exactly the number and variety of dishes that are available. The food service starts at different locations on the ward at each meal time, so the same patients do not get served last.  The menu changes daily, on a three-weekly cycle, and there are 1300 patients altogether across the Trust.  So how do catering staff know what volumes to prepare? 

“The food selection is based on historical data,” says Mike Towler, Trust Catering Manager.  “Although the individual patients change, we’ve found that we can predict what people will select on a particular ward – the choices don’t vary much.” 

This level of ‘on the spot’ choice is a major advantage, since a patient’s status will change from day to day.  “They could be feeling better or worse, and what they wanted yesterday may not suit them today.  Patients who are mobile can look at the food on display on the trolley’s servery area and see what takes their fancy. 

“It encourages patients to eat well and feel in control, enhancing their health and wellbeing.” 

There are three hospitals in the Trust.  Solihull is where the central production unit that produces meals is located.  Heartlands are seven miles away and Good Hope Hospital 18 miles distant, so a chilled vehicle is used to transport food to them. Meals are delivered to wards in chilled boxes, then loaded into the Moffat V-Gen trolleys for regeneration.

Mike Towler says the Moffat trolleys play an important role in the quality of the meal service, during and after regeneration.  “They perform very well.  They enhance the meal service experience for patients and quality control is excellent with all types of food – for example, one of our specialities is Afro-Caribbean cuisine, which has a high uptake in one of the hospitals due to its catchment area.” 

Importantly, the trolleys also look good.  “The servery with its gantry is attractive and the food is presented very well.  One of the things we especially like about the Moffat trolleys is that we can choose the exterior finish to give them a distinctive appearance.  So two of our hospitals have gone for a bright turquoise finish, the other a light oak wood effect. 

“Having an attractive foodservice trolley really lifts the operation.” 

Energy efficiency is an important consideration at the Trust and the V-Gen trolleys feature technologies developed under Moffat’s ‘Green Thinking’ initiative, such as the Sahara multi-fan system, which saves energy by heating and chilling more efficiently. 

Initially the Trust ordered 17 trolleys and has now placed an order for a further seven.  “We decided to switch from our previous supplier because of the V-Gen trolleys’ performance and looks.  We have been very happy with the support and service Moffat has delivered, such as being able to trial the trolleys at one of the hospitals, the training and working the shifts with staff.”

Another aspect of the Heart of England foodservice experiment is that mealtimes are protected – no doctors’ rounds or drug dispensing are allowed to disturb foodservice, unless there’s an emergency.  What’s more, nursing and support staff take an active role, ensuring that meal service is swift, relatively short and food is hot when it gets to the patient.  Each course is served separately, so patients don’t have to juggle with three dishes on a tray at once – and they are less likely to skip their main course.

“This system has support from the top levels of management at the Trust.  It’s all about looking at meal service differently: not as an inconvenience, but as a central part of our patients’ well being,” says Mike Towler.  “It’s going extremely well and the Moffat trolleys help in a big way – plus, they look the business.”   

E & R Moffat is one of the UK’s leading manufacturers of quality foodservice equipment, designing and manufacturing in-house.  Based in Bonnybridge, Scotland, the company manufactures standard and bespoke servery, regeneration and storage equipment and runs a full nationwide after-sales engineering team.  E & R Moffat is accredited to ISO 9001:2008 and many of the products have gas approvals and are EMC tested.  For more information on E & R Moffat visit the website on www.ermoffat.co.uk