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Hospital Caterers Association welcomes food and hydration findings in PLACE report

Craig McKenzie

The Hospital Caterers Association (HCA) has welcomed the news that food and hydration provision scores were among the largest increases in the latest Patient-Led Assessments of the Care Environment (PLACE) publication.

Food and hydration provision assessments carried out across healthcare sites in England between March and June 2017 increased by 1.4% on average, at national level, compared to last year.

The national average score for food overall was 89.7% based on both organisational and ward assessment scorecards, which are used to gather the data.

A total of 2,045 food assessments were undertaken in the period at sites where meals are provided by the hospital (1,167 sites).

The food and hydration part of the assessment includes a range of organisational questions relating to the catering service, such as choice of food, 24-hour availability, meal times and access to menus. It also includes an assessment of food at ward level focusing on the taste, texture and appropriateness of serving temperature.

Stewart McKenzie, chair of the HCA and site facilities manager at NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde (pictured), said: “It’s great to see that scores for the food and hydration domain of the PLACE assessments have increased since last year.

“The data in the 2017 report, shows positive improvement in not only the overall food and hydration scores but also in the organisation questions and food at ward level assessments.

“The national average score for food overall was 89.7%, while, the national average score for food organisation was 88.8%, 1.8 percentage points higher than 2016, and for ward food it was 90.2%, an increase of 1.2 percentage points compared to last year. 

“Patient-led assessments are vital as ultimately the work being carried out by departments such as catering and cleaning teams in hospitals has a direct impact on a patient’s experience.

“This data allows us to see where catering teams are performing well and where there may be areas for improvement to ensure patients are always receiving the highest quality of care.”

The PLACE assessments are an annual appraisal of the non-clinical aspects of NHS and independent or private healthcare settings, identified as important by patients and the public.

The assessments are undertaken by teams made up of staff and members of the public, known as patient assessors. The team must include a minimum of 50% patient assessors. 

Introduced in April 2013, the PLACE programme looks at the patient environment and how it supports patients in matters such as privacy, dignity and food, as well as cleanliness, general building maintenance and whether the premises are equipped to meet the needs of people with dementia or with a disability.

The criteria for each aspect, represents good practice as identified by professional organisations whose members are responsible for the delivery of these services, such as the HCA, the Healthcare Estates Facilities Managers Association (HEFMA) and the Association of Healthcare Cleaning Professionals (ahcp).

McKenzie added: “We set high guidelines as we believe in promoting best practice and I am immensely proud to see the hard work of healthcare catering teams throughout England being recognised by the people we serve, patients.

“The HCA believes a multi-disciplinary approach is pivotal in ensuring patients are at the heart of hospital services. In recent years, we have sought greater collaboration between caterers, nurses and dietitians as part of our ‘Power of 3’ campaign. This important initiative of working together to help improve the nutritional outcomes for patients overarches much of what we are aiming to achieve as an association.

“Earlier this year, we launched our 24-7/365-day nutrition and hydration awareness campaign to highlight the importance of good nutrition every day of the year. It aims to raise awareness of food and hydration being an important part of quality care, the risks of malnutrition and what can be done to prevent the condition in healthcare environments.”

The PLACE programme replaced the Patient Environment Action Team (PEAT) assessments, which ran from 2000 to 2012.

The 2017 PLACE results were published on 15 August on the NHS digital website.

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