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A HOLISTIC APPROACH
Kevin Rocks says the organisation decided
to take a different approach to food safety
a couple of years ago when they upgraded
the kitchen to commercial standard.
"We added 90-odd beds at the time
and upgraded the kitchen partly because
of the increased size but also because we
could see the future potential of going into
home delivered food service."
They decided to take a broad, holistic
approach to food safety. Rocks says they
put a lot of work into it, "but it is part of
the big mosaic".
"I'm a great believer in looking at issues
in context. So we looked at our policies
and procedures in the whole catering
provision context which is providing
three meals a day, seven days a week for
'x-many' people, for whom a meal can be
the highlight of their day."
"Now, you are required to comply with
food safety regulations. You can say, oh
we're saddled with this terrible burden or
you can say let's have a look at this whole
food preparation and service and see
what's the best way forward," says Rocks.
THE WAY FORWARD
In food safety terms, it is more than the
kitchen staff that needs to be on board.
Administration, resource management,
clinical and nutritional care, cultural life,
and respect for the privacy and dignity of
residents are also considered in audits.
The first step was to get a food safety
consultant in to look at the food service
but they also got in a dietitian from a
Polish background. Rocks says the idea
was to build the food safety component
into food service from the ground up.
"We embarked upon a lot of food
service staff education with the hotel
services manager and the dietitian and we
incorporated the food safety component
into that. It wasn't an add-on; it was part
of the whole thing and I think it makes a
big difference," he says.
Rocks says everyone in the
organisation is in part responsible for
some element of the food safety plan,
so they at least need to know their
role in the system when interviewed as
part of the audit. But with a conscious
policy of moving staff around in order
to understand other people's jobs, it is
important they also know how the whole
system works and how it all fits together.
"We invest a lot of time in staff
development, so having external auditors
recognise their skills and the hard work is
very gratifying," says Mr Rocks.
MAKING IT SING
Polish born dietitian, Magda Piotrowski is
responsible for menu planning, the dietary
needs of residents, as well as food quality
at Holy Family Services.
As a food quality consultant, she says
she must inevitably become involved in
"Even if I didn't want to be involved, I
have to be involved because I work there.
Some of our workers have excellent Polish
but not good English. Asking people from
outside to come and give training is a
problem if they can't understand any Polish.
"Also, we need to explain a few things
to residents -- sometimes they don't
understand why they can't have uncooked
seafood or can't have egg flips," she says.
"Many years ago [an egg flip] was a
high protein supplement. Many people
used to love it. But we are not allowed
to serve it now because of the possible
"The secret is to be patient and to
explain all the time. Sometimes you
might think it should be obvious and they
have been told many times; but often
people don't remember so you have to be
patient," Ms Piotrowski said. n
Fresh meats are a challenge to food
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