Culturally inclusive diets: Patients can feel confident in the food they’re served

Patient Food Services

March 6, 2024

London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) offers a variety of therapeutic, allergy and religious-based diets to meet patient needs. 

Patient Food Services is a dedicated team within LHSC that works to ensure compliance to patients’ dietary requirements as ordered by patient care staff. 

Members of the Patient Food Services team regularly engage with multiple partners (such as religious leaders) to make sure the diets available at LHSC comply with restrictions, allergies and patient needs while in hospital. Patient feedback is taken into consideration when creating menus, and the Clinical Nutrition team is consulted to ensure the dietary needs of patients are being met.

“We review each and every food item that comes into the organization and assess its appropriateness for the culturally inclusive diets we have available,” says Laura Harries, Coordinator, Food Services. “Patients can feel confident in the food they’re served while at LHSC.”

Harries is a coordinator for the tray line in Patient Food Services. She oversees the processes taken to get the appropriate foods on the patient trays. “It is essential that the patient receives the right items on their tray. Every step from staff placing the order to tray delivery is meticulously planned so everything is correct,” Harries explains. “We use a specific software that ensures items on the patient’s menu and tray are compliant to their ordered diet.”

Melissa McFalls, Dietetic Assistant at LHSC adds, “All of the food and meals for patients have been certified as appropriate for the specific diets available.”

Ongoing dietary reviews

LHSC offers a variety of therapeutic, allergy and religious-based diets for patients across the organization.

Ongoing reviews take place to ensure the cultural diets comply with restrictions and are appropriate to serve to patients that request a specific diet. 

“As a teaching hospital, we often engage our dietetic students to help in the regular reviews of the diets we offer,” Harries explains. “This helps to further their learning and helps to keep us up to date on the most recent best practices.”

Krista Peraza, Administrative Dietitian, Patient Food Services is an integral part in making sure diets are compliant. “As an administrative dietitian I code ingredients and ensure the patient’s diet is adhered to, keeping in mind any specific needs and allergies,” explains Peraza. “Along with our Patient Food Services Administrative team, I help to generate a menu for the patient with foods that are safe for them and regularly review food, reach out to vendors and try out different foods to keep the options varied and interesting for patients.”

Diet diversity

Having a diverse amount of foods available for a large variety of diets is helpful in the patient experience during the patient’s stay as well as in their recovery. “We do our best to provide diverse foods to ensure our patients have more opportunity to have food they like available to them. This can help enable better food and nutrition intake so patients can recover well. We continue to add new dishes and food items as well,” says McFalls.

Patients are encouraged to let their health care team know about their diet needs. Staff will do their best to accommodate any diet restriction, allergy, or preference.

“We want patients to feel comfortable asking their care teams for what they need,” explains Peraza. “We feel very strongly that food is medicine and that it will help patients’ in their recovery while in hospital. And we are always open to patient feedback and improving current offerings based on the needs of our communities.”

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