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Halton Healthcare earns kudos for meal tray delivery program

Automated system streamlines meal distribution in hospitals and cuts down on tray delivery errors, organization says
The Halton Healthcare food services team with the Health Standards Organization award.

A unique meal delivery program at Halton Healthcare hospitals has been recognized as a "leading practice" by the Health Standards Organization.

Known as "Tray in Motion - Positive Patient Identification with Meal Tray Delivery," the automated system streamlines meal distribution in local hospitals.

It also helps the hospital avoid patient tray delivery errors, Halton Healthcare said in a news release.

The practice supports good hospital nutrition, which plays a key role in a patient’s recovery, the organization noted.

“From a patient safety and quality perspective, meals must be prepared very carefully according to each individual’s needs," said Marianne Katusin, director, support services. 

"This includes dietary restrictions, the texture of food and food allergies. Some patients are diabetic, others may be on a low-salt diet or have swallowing issues. In our busy hospital we need to provide an efficient and timely food distribution system that ensures each patient gets the right meal to avoid adverse food reactions."

When a patient’s order is received, a meal ticket is created using barcode information unique to each individual’s records and a wristband including information like name, birth date and any dietary restrictions or allergies.

Based on this information, a food tray is assembled with instructions shared through the automated Tray in Motion system.

When the meal is ready for delivery, a food service team member scans the barcode on the tray and the matching version on a patient’s wristband using an iPad.

This ensures that the right meal, with the right dietary needs is delivered to the right patient, according to Halton Healthcare.

“In addition to allowing us to track meal trays from the meal ticket creation stage to delivery and monitor the process in real time, this system also allows us to better respond to last-minute changes from the time of assembly to delivery,” added Alexandra Mccord, manager of food services at the Oakville Trafalgar Memorial Hospital site. “If need be, we can literally locate a tray in seconds.”

If the scan shows a green check mark, everything is in order and before the tray is given to the patient, an additional identification is required. The team member verbally verifies the patient’s name before presenting a meal.

If a red ‘x’ is generated, the scanner alerts staff that something may be wrong. The order might have changed or the intended patient was discharged or moved. In this case, rather than leaving the tray, healthcare teams investigate the modification.

“Our Tray in Motion - Positive Patient Identification with Meal Tray Delivery program has improved our food distribution system across our hospitals and enhanced patient safety,” said Katusin. “We are delighted to have this program recognized as a leading practice by the Health Standards Organization.”

An affiliate of Accreditation Canada, the Health Standards Organization defines a leading practice as an innovative, people-centred, evidence-informed practice that has proven success and demonstrates positive change related to safe and reliable care.