A new self-catering model of food service delivery for the University of Canberra (UCH) Adult Mental Health Rehabilitation Unit (AMHRU)

Janna Lutze1, Lorna Munro2, Dorothy Aawulenaa2, Jacinta Bryce1, Susan Davis1, Kannan Sakthivel1, Deanna Skitt1, Nanette Taylor1, Susan Jacques1, Andrew Slattery1

1Canberra Health Services, , Australia, 2University of Canberra, , Australia

Background:  A self-catering food service model was implemented within the new UCH AMHRU.  This unique model allows consumers to prepare and cook their own meals within a pod kitchen, facilitated by occupational therapists and allied health assistants.  Each pod group select a main course meal from two options daily, and are provided with fresh ingredients and recipes from the kitchen with the aim of enhancing independent living skills.

Methods:  A preliminary assessment of the adequacy of this food service model was undertaken.  Two student dietitians investigated; (i) menu and recipe compliance with the ACI Standards for Consumers of Inpatient Mental Health Services(1), (ii) quantitative dietary intakes and food patterns of consumers’, and (iii) key stakeholder feedback on the self-catering model implementation via qualitative semi-structured interviews.

Results:  The food service model achieved 78% compliance with the ACI Standards(1), with small areas for improvement identified, such as improved variety of meals (hot) at lunch.  Food intake data from a sample of four consumers was highly variable.  Some consumers met, and exceeded, key nutrient recommendations (e.g. in total energy, protein, saturated at, sodium and vitamin C).  Others did not appear to achieve adequate intakes for important nutrients (e.g. fibre and magnesium).  Lunch was found to be generally consumed outside of the unit (e.g. purchased from local cafe), and breakfast was frequently skipped.  Most consumers were highly engaged and satisfied with the evening meal and self-catering model.

Opportunities:  Six key opportunities to enhance the food service model were proposed;

  • greater staffing assistance to consumers at breakfast and lunch to improve engagement,
  • enhanced labelling of delivered food items and more user-friendly recipes,
  • modifying evening recipes to suit special diet needs (e.g. vegetarian),
  • improved protein profile of the lunch meal,
  • further nutritional assessment of the mid-meal snack service, and
  • advocacy for an ongoing dietitian role within the AMHRU.
  1. Agency for Clinical Innovation. Nutrition standards for consumers of inpatient mental health services in NSW. Sydney: NSW Agency for Clinical Innovation; 2013.

Biography: To be confirmed

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