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south devon healthcare trust

Torbay Hospital in Torquay is the general hospital for the South Devon area. Serving a local population of 260,000 people and many thousands of tourists who visit the area each year. The hospital catering department has to provide around 1,900 meals for patients, staff and visitors everyday.

Pork In Cider GravyWhen South Devon Healthcare Trust needed a partner to help move its catering operation to the next level, in line with the recommendations of the Health of the Nation, it considered three options:

1. Continuing with the existing central kitchen
2. Moving to a cook-chill operation
3. Moving to a cook-freeze operation

After much consultation and successful pilot studies the decision was unanimous. The hospital's patient catering operation moved to apetito's cook-freeze system for increased choice, total flexibility and high quality food. And according to Trust Hotel Services Manager Malcolm Batt the joint effort has been a hit – with the Trust, his catering team and most importantly the patients!

The Brief

"Our brief focussed on the desire for a partnership and a commitment to ongoing development," says Malcolm Batt. "We were very clear that our catering operation had to be of the highest quality possible and consistent in terms of the service and the products. We required flexibility when menu planning and did not wish to be tied into a production cycle. In addition, having consulted our patients over a period of time we were determined to address two key concerns with the existing system – the poor presentation and varying temperature of food when it arrived at ward level."

The Solution

apetito is a cook freeze specialist and through working in a partnership Torbay is able to offer patients a weekly menu cycle giving patients a choice of at least four main dishes every meal time, compared to the three offered previously. Patients select their choice from Torbay's National Menu booklet and it is phoned through from the ward to the kitchen by 9.30am on the day of service. Frozen meals are then simply sent up the ward where they are cooked in a regeneration trolley, heated through to the optimum temperature and served to the patients. This way the food is at its best at the point of service – just heated, piping hot, nutritious and appetising.

Behind the scenes the frozen meals are stored until required in a walk in freezer. The minimum 6-month shelf-life minimises waste and maximises convenience for the caterer. apetito has also addressed wastage at ward level by offering individual, twin and multi portion pack sizes so only the required number are send up to the patients.

Torbay caterers can choose from over 180 dishes, many of which have been approved by the Better Hospital Food Programme. In addition apetito offers a range of specially developed pureed meals and meals suitable for patients on low salt, diabetic, reducing, gluten free or moderate salt diets.

apetito's nutritional database, Nutridata has proved invaluable to dieticians and caterers when planning meals for patients on both normal and special diets. Staff can use Nutridata to ascertain nutritional content and suitability of meals for special diets. This happens at the touch of a button and greatly reduces the time involved in planning and managing the catering operation.

The Results

South Devon Healthcare Trust has achieved local recognition from its patients and to date has hosted over 40 site visits as an example of an efficient and good quality hospital catering operation.

"It was the willingness of apetito to work closely with us and the benefits of Cook Freeze that has transformed our catering," explains Batt. "We have been able to increase patient choice, the quality of the meals and improve our efficiency. In addition to this crucial cost control we know that our patients are also enjoying life with apetito.

"Measuring patient satisfaction is a challenge. Hospital patients are subject to conflicting emotions and differing states of hunger depending on the state of their health. However I can tell you that previous complainers have taken the time to comment on the improvements and we receive many letters thanking us for the quality of the food, which is borne out with an achievement of over 96%* satisfaction with our meals service."

*South Devon Healthcare Trust Patient Satisfaction Survey

apetito has over 40 years experience in cook-freeze. With 180 multi portion dishes, a unique nutritional database and a Positive Release System for maximum food safety, apetito is the perfect partner for cost sector operators of all sizes in all sectors, where quality, range, flexibility, cost, effectiveness and safety are paramount.

We have been able to increase patient choice, the quality of the meals and improve our efficiency. In addition to this crucial cost control we know that our patients are also enjoying life with apetito.

Malcolm Batt – Trust Hotel Services, Torbay Hospital