Stephanie Cook, director of Nutrition and Food Services with the Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region, thinks so.
“That negative image of hospital food is everywhere,” she said. “We see it in the media, we see it even among our own hospital staff. People think it’s going to be tasteless, pre-packaged and highly processed.”
It’s tough dispelling the preconceived notions, Cook said.
“It’s probably the most common ice breaker for almost any staff to enter a patient’s room and say, ‘Ew, how’s the food?’ ” Cook said. “It reinforces to patients that the food isn’t going to be good. Our goal was to change that story and start with our staff.”
A two-part student research project in RQHR’s Nutrition and Dietetic Practicum program involved staff at both of Regina’s hospitals to see if it was actually the food that was bad or just its reputation.
The first part of the study asked 57 staff at the Regina General Hospital about their perceptions of the food served to patients.
“Interestingly, it didn’t matter whether those people had experiences with hospital food themselves, they still rated hospital food poorly,” said Heather Tulloch, co-ordinator of nutrition and dietetic practice with the RQHR.
Part 2 of the project involved taste trials at the Pasqua Hospital.
Hospital staff were invited to sample six entrees they were told were being considered for the cafeteria. In fact, those items were six meals already being served weekly to patients at both hospitals.
Of the staff who tasted the food, 85 per cent rated the taste, appearance, smell and overall quality as good, very good or excellent.
The harvest chili and Greek pork chops were clear winners — rated by 98 per cent of staff as very good or excellent.
Overall, 327 respondents including nurses, therapists, physicians and housekeeping staff rated the meal items.
Nearly two out of three respondents said they would purchase the meal they had eaten if it were offered in the cafeteria.
“This tells us that hospital food doesn’t suck,” Cook said. “There is so much negative media and the expectations are just so low for hospital food … We want to change that story.”
Regular surveys done in the region’s acute care and long-term care facilities ask patients to rate the quality, temperature and variety of meals and if the food met their cultural needs.
Generally, patients rate hospital food as pretty good and the region is working to bring in more locally sourced ingredients all the time.
“It’s an uphill battle in hospitals because people aren’t in their homes, they’re sick, they’re being served their meals on a tray, which is certainly not how they receive them at home, and they’re in an environment where there isn’t homelike smells,” Cook said. “And folks who are sick generally have poor appetites.”
Entrees are a mix of food prepared in-house and outsourced.
“If we can find a product that meets our standards and the nutritional needs for our patients and the quality is either very good or excellent, then we consider that product,” Cook said. “If we can’t find one that we’re happy with, then we make it in house at the General Hospital.”
Almost all broth soups are homemade.
“We weren’t happy with the soups we were purchasing,” Cook said. “From a nutritional standpoint, they weren’t offering much in vegetables and protein and we know that soup is often an item that folks in the hospital do quite well with — it’s a comfort food.”
Many patients come into hospital malnourished.
“Anything that we can do to encourage them to eat well is so important,” Cook said.
How to get a copy of your personal health information
The physical record of your health care is owned by the health-care facility or region, but you have the right to read or request a copy of your health information. Normally, you have the choice of physically viewing your health record or receiving a copy. In either case, you may ask for help understanding what the terms, codes or abbreviations in the record mean. Your health information may be disclosed to a family member, friend or other third party by providing your written consent along with the form.
If you believe there is a factual error or omission in your health information, you have the right to request an amendment.
Please send your request ATTN: HIMS to the RQHR site or facility address where care was provided. As example, for Regina hospitals you send your request to:
Regina General Hospital ATTN: HIMS
1440 14th Ave REGINA SK S4P 0W5
Facsimile: 306-766-4723 Enquiries: 306-766-4899
Pasqua Hospital ATTN: HIMS
4101 Dewdney Ave REGINA SK S4T 1A5
Facsimile: 306-766-2745 Enquiries: 306-766-2306
Wascana Rehabilitation ATTN: HIMS
2180 23rd Ave REGINA SK S4S 0A5
Facsimile: 306-766-5244 Enquiries: 306-766-5652
How your information is used in RQHR
Your health-care team uses your health record on a need-to-know basis and views only the information required to plan for and provide you with appropriate care. Others, such as lawyers or insurance companies, need your written consent before RQHR will disclose your information. RQHR follows the need-to-know principle when releasing information and, with your consent, only releases information specific to the injury or instance being reviewed.
In some situations, such as a gunshot or stab wound, a child in need of protection, or when the law requires information to be disclosed.
When personal health information is used for research purposes, the request must first receive approval from a recognized research ethics board. Summarized information that cannot identify individuals is used to create statistics for quality assurance, utilization measurement and performance monitoring.
Health records are periodically reviewed to evaluate the quality of care provided to you. Anyone reviewing records must follow the same privacy laws and rules required of all health-care providers.
Visitors & Patient Privacy
Visitors are allowed with the permission of the individual patient. Visitors are expected to visit the main lobby information desk receptionist for patient room information. An individual patient may make a written request to limit or restrict visitors and/or the disclosure of personal health information to family and friends. These requests must be communicated by the individual or substitute decision maker to the care team members. A request to limit visitor or information flow can be made verbally at any time.