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Quality of food at TCH – has to be seen to be believed

By Someonesmother - 15 April 2012 66

hospital food

I recently spent over a week in TCH. The care was great I cannot fault any of the Drs or nursing staff who did an outstanding job. (apart from one young,  female anaesthetic registrar who was so incredibly rude, banging the side of my bed and demanding I listen to her, much to the horror of surrounding staff- little attitude adjustment needed there)

But the food, OMG! The food was so bad that when I finally felt like eating after a week and disocvered how bad it was I had family and friends bring in something. One night I ordered spinach gnocci, can’t stuff that up I thought. Wrong. It arrived and I opened the lid to find a square of glutinous green stuff sitting on the plate. It was so bad I started laughing and then took a photo and sent it to friends and family. My advice to anyone who will be in for more than day surgery, line up your family and friends to do food runs for you.

I did start to wonder though if the inmates at AMC are catered by the same company or if they actually have proper food?

What’s Your opinion?


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Quality of food at TCH – has to be seen to be believed
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c_c 10:35 am 16 Apr 12

breda said :

Hospital food is pretty awful – I have had airline food that is better.

Why do people complain about airline food so much? Admittedly I’ve not had it often, but certainly when I did eat it I was left wondering what all the fuss was about. No joke, the “gourmet roll” on an economy flight from Canberra to Melbourne on QANTAS was better than a lot you’d find in proper cafes and coffee shops who charge a premium for it.

Anyway the solution to bad hospital food is quite simple. Before admission, go to an engraver and have one of those little plastic signs made that the hospital puts above your bed saying “Nil by Mouth.” If enough patents start bringing in their own signs, they may get a hint.

Bennop 10:29 am 16 Apr 12

trevar said :

I don’t think the complaint in the OP really related to personal preferences or even dietary requirements; it is about whether the food is in any way nourishing. If it is not (and this seems to be the case, judging by the image above), wouldn’t it be more efficient to stop providing food altogether?

The OP’s comment about the meals at the AMC is most interesting. Most inmates have a grocery allowance and prepare their own meals. Inmates in the higher security areas are catered for by chefs and their apprentices (many of whom are also inmates), with meals prepared in the vicinity of the service area. So invariably, all food service at the AMC is better than that at TCH, and the TCH could learn a lot by looking into the AMC’s practices.

In the past, hospitals didn’t provide food for patients; it was the responsibility of patient’s families to feed them if they were too incapacitated to feed themselves. In my opinion, this is probably a better arrangement than what we have presently. A lot of money is being wasted on substances often referred to as ‘food’, which must be sent to landfill as there is no other use for it. Why not simply provide small kitchens on wards for the use of patients and their families?

There is, no doubt, a lot of space occupied by kitchens that don’t produce nourishing food, and this space could be reclaimed and used for wards, compensating for the small kitchens you place on every ward. I’ve even seen spaces used for the distribution of ‘meals’ on many hospital wards; these could be reclaimed and used for food preparation by patients and their families, so the ward needn’t shrink to accommodate a kitchen.

Even with this arrangement, there would be no need for patients’ families to make the provision; there are plenty of grocery delivery services now, so patients can organise their needs from their bed.

I honestly don’t think we’d lose anything by simply removing food service from our hospitals altogether, and making it the responsibility of the patient to arrange their own meals while hospital staff get on with the business of medicine.

This is all good and fine for those who have support networks who are prepared to do bring or prepare food for them, which many people do not.

trevar 10:21 am 16 Apr 12

I don’t think the complaint in the OP really related to personal preferences or even dietary requirements; it is about whether the food is in any way nourishing. If it is not (and this seems to be the case, judging by the image above), wouldn’t it be more efficient to stop providing food altogether?

The OP’s comment about the meals at the AMC is most interesting. Most inmates have a grocery allowance and prepare their own meals. Inmates in the higher security areas are catered for by chefs and their apprentices (many of whom are also inmates), with meals prepared in the vicinity of the service area. So invariably, all food service at the AMC is better than that at TCH, and the TCH could learn a lot by looking into the AMC’s practices.

In the past, hospitals didn’t provide food for patients; it was the responsibility of patient’s families to feed them if they were too incapacitated to feed themselves. In my opinion, this is probably a better arrangement than what we have presently. A lot of money is being wasted on substances often referred to as ‘food’, which must be sent to landfill as there is no other use for it. Why not simply provide small kitchens on wards for the use of patients and their families?

There is, no doubt, a lot of space occupied by kitchens that don’t produce nourishing food, and this space could be reclaimed and used for wards, compensating for the small kitchens you place on every ward. I’ve even seen spaces used for the distribution of ‘meals’ on many hospital wards; these could be reclaimed and used for food preparation by patients and their families, so the ward needn’t shrink to accommodate a kitchen.

Even with this arrangement, there would be no need for patients’ families to make the provision; there are plenty of grocery delivery services now, so patients can organise their needs from their bed.

I honestly don’t think we’d lose anything by simply removing food service from our hospitals altogether, and making it the responsibility of the patient to arrange their own meals while hospital staff get on with the business of medicine.

p1 10:10 am 16 Apr 12

cross said :

Lived in Canberra for 40 years and never heard these…

Ahhh, there is your problem, 40 years ago TCH was Woden Valley Hospital (assuming it was built then), and the gaol didn’t exit.

Of course, the AMC *has* had rather a lot of press over the last 5 years or so, and the Hospital only adopted the “TCH” branding about 10 years ago…

Bennop 9:50 am 16 Apr 12

Whilst there are not doubt more amusing examples, I think this complaint could be the quintessential example of #firstworldproblems.

Thumper 9:06 am 16 Apr 12

It’s a hospital, not a restaurant.

The food is edible and keeps you alive.

I see no problem.

mickey 8:58 am 16 Apr 12

Very recently, the mrs was admitted to the john james maternity unit for a week. The food she was served was first rate, looked like it was from a fine dining restaurant. It was consistently good for the whole time.

thegirl 7:12 am 16 Apr 12

After having spent 7 nights at TCH last month I agree with the sentiment about the food. It is really terrible (and noticeably worse than John James where I also recently stayed for the birth of my children). But I agree with other posters who have commented on the difficulty of having a menu that has to cater for unwell people and the logistics of getting a huge number of meals out all at the one time – you can’t be expecing gourmet meals. And I can cope with a week of bad food. The most important thing was the amazing care I received and that I got better.
Having said that, in addition to those 7 nights at TCH I was flown to St Vincents in Sydney & was there for a couple of nights (in the public part) and the food was so much better there with a far more efficient ordering system.

FioBla 1:04 am 16 Apr 12

Seem to be a flux of food-related posts. Brodburger or Jamie Oliver would do a better job, and could cater for $3.33 per head. (This paragraph is a joke by the way).

In some Singapore hospitals, the food trolleys are automated between the kitchen and the wards. The trolleys run along tracks, go up and down lifts automatically. Quite amazing when I saw it 10 years ago. Although the trays still need to be brought (by human) from the trolley to the patient. Automation seems to be big over there.

breda 10:13 pm 15 Apr 12

Hospital food is pretty awful – I have had airline food that is better. But, to put it in perspective, it would cost a lot of money to improve it substantially. For a start, hospital buildings are large – lots of floors, lots of corridors. There is usually one kitchen, which can’t help being a long way away from many patients.

Secondly, there are a bunch of ever changing dietary requirements for patients. On any given day, there are patients who can or cannot eat this or that, whether for medical reasons, or because of allergies, and things like vegetarianism, allergies and religious requirements. The next day, the mix will be different.

It is easy to criticise, but it is a bit like the famous ‘rubber chicken’ at functions. It happens because it is expensive and wasteful to try to cater for every individual’s preferences, so we get the lowest (and cheapest) common denominator.

By all means, complain about the food if it is horrible. But it is worth recognising that catering for a hospital where you can’t charge $25 for a terrible club sandwich and chips – usually delivered lukewarm – like hotels do has inbuilt limitations.

el 9:27 pm 15 Apr 12

cross said :

P.S. It’s Alexander Maconochie Centre sorry for the correction,could’nt help myself.

“Couldn’t”.

milkman 9:12 pm 15 Apr 12

cross said :

p1 said :

TCH = The Canberra Hospital (the public hospital in Canberra)
AMC = The Alexander Maconahie Centre (the prison in Canberra)

It was probably fair of the OP to think that most Canberristanis would know the acronyms, especially those who frequent this site.

Lived in Canberra for 40 years and never heard these but then I’m not in the public service were these acronyms run riot.
P.S. It’s Alexander Maconochie Centre sorry for the correction,could’nt help myself.

Let’s just call it the gaol and be done with it.

m00nee 8:11 pm 15 Apr 12

A few years ago I spent a week at calvary. After three days the nurses noted that I must be getting better. Considering how crappy I felt I had to ask how they came to that conclusion.

The answer? “Because you’ve stopped eating the food”.

cross 7:48 pm 15 Apr 12

p1 said :

TCH = The Canberra Hospital (the public hospital in Canberra)
AMC = The Alexander Maconahie Centre (the prison in Canberra)

It was probably fair of the OP to think that most Canberristanis would know the acronyms, especially those who frequent this site.

Lived in Canberra for 40 years and never heard these but then I’m not in the public service were these acronyms run riot.
P.S. It’s Alexander Maconochie Centre sorry for the correction,could’nt help myself.

cranky 7:07 pm 15 Apr 12

Spent a couple of weeks in TCH a year or so ago. I eat to stay alive, and have nothing but praise for the meals provided. Seemed to me to be balanced nutricianlly (sp?) and well worth eating.

Its not like your paying a squillion dollars per meal.

How_Canberran 7:07 pm 15 Apr 12

vg said :

Never ceases to amaze me how people only become brave enough to try and rectify an issue when they get home and can hide behind a DSL line.

Did you mention the food to anyone? Did you complain? Not a hard thing to do.

Having been the subject of numerous orthopaedic procedures over the years, on the rare occasion I’ve had staff attitude problems I’ve dealt with them myself. Upon having a nurse who found it ‘annoying’ that I asked for pain medication after surgery to insert screws into a wrist and arm I told her I didn’t appreciate the attitude. My requests were legitimate and actually less than the standard requirements. She didn’t like that so I took the time to note her shifts and, when on during the evening and I knew she was watching TV, I would periodically buzz her and ask if it was still annoying.

One nurse told me that I was more than capable of going home 6 hrs after a knee reconstruction. I asked her if she’d suffered my injury previously. When she said know I asked her if she’d care for me to obliterate her ACL and ask if she held the same opinion. When I get treated like sh*t I become the biggest c in the world, I paid for the service so I demand it

…..and they will wait patiently for your next visit just to cater for your ‘demands’.

milkman 7:00 pm 15 Apr 12

grump said :

mezza76 said :

Um, I suppose you are talking about the food at a public hospital? (I assumed that was what TCH is). So in essence you are complaining about the food at a publicly funded hospital where you get treated for free and you wish you had better food? While I appreciate that food at hospitals should be better, in terms of nutrition, I’d much prefer that public health funds went towards better health outcomes rather than food quality. In short Australia’s don’t pay an awful lot for hospital care but receive some of the better care in the planet. That’s what matters. I’m sure you’d be the first to complain if we raised taxes by a small fraction to ensure that next person who enters hospital and doesn’t pay anything for it gets a nice meal. Im astonished.

Mezza – have you seen the food? honestly, a blind hamster could prepare more appealing and appetising meals

A blind hamster would BE a more appealing and appetising meal.

mezza76 6:39 pm 15 Apr 12

Lol. I have seen it. It doesn’t look great. But you’ve got to understand that hospitals are not hotels. Medicare doesnt provide for all proceduresv& evn then it’s not 100% of the cost. The bulk of the funds are made up of state & territories where they have the worst revenue. Eg. QLD spends about $8bn per year on health, they get about $5bn of GST… Leaving the rest to be made up from transfer duties & the like. Then they have to pay for schools, police, roads, etc. I assume that the ACT is in a similar situation & in a worst position given the small amount of taxes generated here.

Health costs are rising at about 9-10% a year. At current rates, states & territories have about 30 yrs before health costs take up the entire budget. The food is the least of my concerns…

gooterz 6:34 pm 15 Apr 12

You aren’t really there for the food.. If it was good then you would get people just there for the food, complaining of fake pain just to get a decent meal!

I’m sure the hospital also has very strict things about what it can and can’t cook and has to be done in huge amounts for a budget!

grump 6:20 pm 15 Apr 12

mezza76 said :

Um, I suppose you are talking about the food at a public hospital? (I assumed that was what TCH is). So in essence you are complaining about the food at a publicly funded hospital where you get treated for free and you wish you had better food? While I appreciate that food at hospitals should be better, in terms of nutrition, I’d much prefer that public health funds went towards better health outcomes rather than food quality. In short Australia’s don’t pay an awful lot for hospital care but receive some of the better care in the planet. That’s what matters. I’m sure you’d be the first to complain if we raised taxes by a small fraction to ensure that next person who enters hospital and doesn’t pay anything for it gets a nice meal. Im astonished.

Mezza – have you seen the food? honestly, a blind hamster could prepare more appealing and appetising meals

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