Business success with employee training at Glenelg Community Hospital


By Andrew Thomson*
Tuesday, 31 October, 2017


Sue carpenter photo

On-site training has had a positive impact on this South Australian hospital.

Doing business better often means taking a different approach to your competitors.

Well-performing health and aged-care foodservice operations know what they want and they have a clear vision for achieving this; they share this vision with their employees. Their business displays a high level of consistency, reliability, accuracy and standards with their processes. They engage with their employees and provide focused training sessions to ensure they have the right skill mix to meet business, customer expectations and regulatory requirements. Employees know how to identify and resolve problems.

Glenelg Community Hospital’s approach to training

Glenelg Community Hospital is a not-for-profit, small surgical facility providing a range of high-quality services and care. The hospital has been part of the local community since its first opening in 1950. It certainly has a warm family feel about it.

In her roles of health & safety coordinator, return to work officer and staff educator at the hospital, Sue Carpenter juggles several responsibilities, including employee education and professional development. Carpenter has tertiary qualifications and a background in nursing, work health and safety, infection control and risk management. 

When it comes to training, Carpenter takes a hands-on approach to ensure all hospital employees understand their responsibilities and can demonstrate the relevant competencies on the job. In the kitchen, employees undergo regular training to improve performance and there is a sound process used to identify, assess and manage all risk — not just food safety risk.

Carpenter, along with General Services Manager Kathy Manning, has adopted an inclusive approach and employees are encouraged to report and document risk.

Glenelg Community Hospital. Image credit: Glenelg Community Hospital.

Undertaking a process review

Recently, the managers reviewed the processes for producing one specific food line. This review included ergonomics and manual task management, cold storage compliance, infection control and cross-contamination, and dietary needs.

The review included training employees to understand not only the process, but the reasons why it had been implemented. This high-performing hospital utilises on-the-job training to teach not only workplace skills, but also workplace culture and performance expectations.

“In training, there can be a divide between what you think is happening and what is actually happening,” said Carpenter. “Contributing factors to this may be the lack of training, understanding why a certain process is implemented or has been recommended, or working in ‘silos’.”

She said the silo mentality is evident when:

  • a person makes a decision or changes a practice without correct consultation
  • there is lack of consideration for the impact the change could make
  • no subsequent training or communication is implemented to ensure appropriate staff are informed and capable of implementing the change.

“Through training, we identified a number of areas that should be addressed to ensure best practice is achieved,” Carpenter explained. “Reducing risk is the aim of training, and providing key messages around why tasks are practised in a consistent way ensure that food law requirements, organisational policies and procedures, and consistency with budget restraints are adhered to, thus resulting in high levels customer and organisational satisfaction.

“Training provides an opportunity to remind staff of current knowledge and lapses in practice as necessary.”

For example:

  • Personal preference in the way a food handling task is performed is an issue if there is non-compliance with standards.
  • Staff are reminded of current tasks and procedures to ensure correct food handling, which is also inherently a cost benefit.
  • There is the necessity for staff to display fundamental attributes, eg, respect when managing difficult situations or patients in relation to menus and dietary requirements, to achieve a positive outcome.

“A reporting and mindful culture encourages staff to contribute and provide options or ideas that will improve practices,” Carpenter said. “This not only empowers staff but culminates in encouraging organisational support and openness to ongoing processes and to change as well.”

When individuals work as a team, each member brings a variety of perspectives. But consultation does not mean consensus, and unnecessary discussion can be laborious and ineffective. “Robust management of these forums or meetings is essential,” said Carpenter. “However, when individuals feel their voice is heard, it encourages buy in to new ideas and practices, thus enhancing best practice in the domain of general services.”

In these technologically advanced times, when many health and aged-care operations are turning to technology for employee training, questions remain around training effectiveness and improvement to employee and business performance, including managing all aspects of business risk. Is your operation a high-performing business?

*Andrew Thomson is Director of Think ST Solutions, a training and consultancy business offering practical solutions to the food industry, specialising in aged-care and healthcare facilities. He has worked across South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania in registered training organisations, state and local government health departments and foodservice operations. Andrew has presented at conferences on training, food hygiene and food safety issues in both Australia and New Zealand, and given radio presentations in Australia and the United States.

Top image caption: Deanna Stojanovic and Sue Carpenter in the Glenelg Community Hospital kitchen. Image credit: Glenelg Community Hospital.

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