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Menu changes for Balmain

Food at Balmain Hospital has had a makeover.

A hospital staff member delivers a food tray to a patient sitting in a chair
SydneyConnect image: Avril Burn receives her meal at Balmain Hospital

A new food service model to deliver tasty, nutritious meal options to support patients’ dietary and nutritional needs is now available at Balmain Hospital.  

The completion of a full kitchen refurbishment has allowed a hot-plated service, wider range of new menu items and much improved plating and presentation options. 

Eighty-one-year-old Avril Burn is part way into a three-month hospital stay for shoulder rehabilitation after a fall and has been enjoying the addition of new menu items and different presentation. 

“Food is probably one of the things people have to look forward to in the hospital, because being in hospital can be unpleasant at times,” she said. 

“I have a problem with my teeth, so I need food that is easy to chew. I especially like the Eggplant Ratatouille as I like to make eggplant Moussaka at home.” 

Zoe Flick, acting Head of Nutrition and Dietetics at Balmain, said the food served to patients during their time in hospital is crucial to their recovery and health outcomes, as many aged care and rehabilitation patients often have a longer duration of stay. 

“Food is a clinical tool used by Dietitians. With meals now being prepared on site, we hope to provide food with improved taste, texture and visual appearance that will in turn improve patient consumption and health outcomes.” she said. 

“There are also opportunities to reduce food waste and to support the use of reusable utensils, making the model more sustainable for the future.” 

About 20% of patients at Balmain need support with their menu selections and ordering. The launch of a new mobile app will give patients or carers greater support when ordering.  

“The app allows carers to provide support by bridging cognitive and language barriers and making menu selections for their loved one. The app allows orders to be made off-site by carers and displays a wider selection of food items than our original paper menus,” Ms Flick said. 

HealthShare NSW General Manager for Patient Services at Balmain Hospital, Merina Hadziahmetovic, says the patient-centred food service model being delivered at Balmain Hospital aligns with the principles of CHEF.   

“CHEF provides a more patient-centred food service model, with a focus on improved patient experience and reduced food waste, all enabled by digital innovation,” Ms Hadziahmetovic said.   

“A detailed service design aligning with the CHEF principles and suited to an aged care/rehabilitation patient cohort was developed in consultation with food service experts and key hospital stakeholders to deliver improved outcomes for patients at Balmain Hospital.” 

Hospital General Manager, Grace Scott, is excited about the change and how it will transform both patient and staff experiences. 

“The rebuild of the Balmain kitchen presented an opportunity for HealthShare Food Services to redesign the patient meal service to offer an improved mealtime experience,” she said.     

“This upgrade was a wonderful opportunity to work together with our colleagues from across the NSW Health Service, District executives, clinical and support staff.” 

Nutrition and dietetics teams carefully considered the enhanced menu for its suitability, in collaboration with consumers and patients.