Arena Futures: Develop

'Understanding the Cost Sector - Focus on Hospital Catering'

Connect, Develop, Grow

On Thursday 13 May, Arena Futures hosted the second event in our Develop web series, 'Understanding the Cost Sector - Focus on Hospital Catering'. This time with a focus on hospital catering, the Arena Futures committee was joined by three specialists from Facility Services company ISS, and 60 attendees from across the industry. If you missed the event, read on for an overview of the discussion and to view the event recording...

Event Review

Written by Ellen Potts, Arena Futures committee member.

With the lockdown roadmap endpoint now well and truly in our sights, some parts of our catering and hospitality world are just starting to re-open. A very exciting and positive time for our industry. However, there are areas of foodservice that never closed.

‘The cost sector’ has remained open throughout the last year of lockdowns and includes hospital catering, nursing homes, school catering, government departments, prison catering and so much more. With the media having predominantly focused on the closing and re-opening of pubs, hotels and restaurants, Arena Futures set out to host a web series named ‘Develop: Understanding the Cost Sector’, to shine a light on these other areas of foodservice that were in the front-line of the pandemic response.

Arena Futures is the division of Arena set up to support younger generations and those new to their hospitality careers and aims to support individuals to connect, develop and grow. This web series aimed to develop individuals understanding of the cost sector.

On Thursday 13th of May, Arena Futures hosted the second event in our Develop web series. This time with a focus on hospital catering, the Arena Futures committee was joined by three specialists from Facility Services company ISS, and 60 attendees from across the industry. If you missed the event, a link to the recording is available to watch here.

Our speakers, Craig Smith, Head of Corporate Affairs at ISS and the Immediate Past National Chair of the Hospital Caterers Association; together with Leanne McDowell, Healthcare Dietitian and Maybel Banienuba, Operations Manager, both also of ISS, joined Natalie Tuckwood and Victoria Joseph, both Arena Futures Committee members, to discuss the challenges and successes of hospital catering. Up for discussion was the strategic, tactical and operational expectations experienced in hospital catering, where a single meal can make a huge difference to a patient’s experience and wellbeing.

ISS, a key player in Healthcare facilities management, provides catering to numerous hospitals across the country and has done throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. With a strong focus on patient health within the catering offering, a collaborative approach is needed with dietetics expertise, medical professionals and operational delivery teams to not only provide a great service, but a service that is bespoke to the needs of the patient.

 “We serve 140 million meals a year, so the catering operation within the NHS is vast […] with professional management and working with the dieticians closely, we can do it,” was one of the key comments from the panel.

To set the scene, Craig Smith provided an overview of catering within the Healthcare sector. With the sheer scale of the operation and a strong emphasis on the multiple different types of hospital, patient and Governing Body, it was clear that a whole range of differing solutions is required in these environments. What remains consistent is the passion for quality and service provided by caterers and service employees.  Opening with perhaps a surprising fact, Craig outlined that NHS hospitals must provide a three-course meal for patients, meeting all their nutritional needs, for just £1.49.

Multiple different environments, expectations and patient needs require a vast selection of food options from the catering teams on site, was concluded by Leanne McDowell when discussing patient catering menus. Leanne provided examples of how challenges such as patients’ calorie needs, religious needs, textural needs (in cases where patients are not as easily able to chew), along with lifestyle and cultural requirements are all provided for when delivering hospital menus.

“Providing good, nourishing food to make sure that [patients] could get home to their loved ones,” she described.

When describing the motivator for service employees who continued to provide a “service with a smile” throughout the pandemic, Leanne emphasised the rewarding nature of providing quality food services to patients, and how training provided by ISS stresses the importance of service employees in patient recovery.

This reward was also very clear when Maybel Banienuba shared her experiences of delivering food services in the Q&A session. Despite the operational challenges in response to COVID-19, such as PPE usage, employee staffing and training, Maybel described the last year of providing an “exceptional integrated service to the patients” as being “rewarding for all of us”. 

The group Q&A session rounded off the webinar focussing on what the future looks like for hospital catering, improvements we can expect to see and the food trends that have started to be incorporated into the food offering.

A massive thank you to our speakers and those who joined the webinar. We are constantly looking out for feedback from our webinars and content so please feel free to message Arena Futures on LinkedIn (link below) if you were unable to attend or wish to share feedback for future events.

To watch the full webinar, including the live Q&A session here.

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Thanks for reading and keep on the lookout for our next event!