Taamaki ki Raro Emma Barraclough

Have you ever been admitted to a hospital and wondered what’s going to be on the menu at mealtimes?

Many of us have either experienced hospital food or heard others tell their stories – and some experiences - in the past - haven’t been rave reviews.

At Counties Manukau, one of our kaimahi is on a mission to ensure that, these days, when the meal tray arrives, patients are more likely to be pleasantly surprised. Emma says, “There is no nutrition if the food isn’t eaten.”

In her role as Food Services Manager, Emma Barraclough oversees the production of thousands of meals, to feed patients, staff and visitors within Middlemore Hospital and other Counties facilities.

Nowadays, there’s a variety of menus offered by the food service provider that is contracted to supply the meals, and Emma says strenuous efforts are made to give a range of food choices, well-prepared and tailored to patients’ dietary needs.

“We work closely with the clinicians to ensure we are giving the right food to the right patient at the right time.”

“My role is a bit like a conductor of an orchestra, it is my job to communicate with and coordinate multiple divisions to ensure the food service runs efficiently on a day-to-day basis. If one of the instruments falls out of sync, the orchestra doesn’t produce quality sound and that is the same in food service. Food is an integral part of the hospital ecosystem.”

Emma’s oversight of food services is pretty huge – she also looks after coffee carts in Middlemore, the staff cafeterias, and she keeps an eye on hundreds of other meals that go out to homes through the Meals on Wheels Service. On any given day you can find her in national strategy meetings, consulting on the construction of future hospital buildings, working with IT and Health and Safety teams or nutritionally analysing the menus.

It’s been a pretty stellar rise for Emma – after graduating from university with an undergraduate degree she went on to get a Master’s degree in Dietetics, her first job was managing a café, and now oversees one of Counties’ most complex services.

“There are lots of things I love about this job,” says Emma: “I especially love when our food service is complimented, and our tea ladies get shown some love. When you’re staying in hospital, you are often getting bad news; it’s great when we can bring some joy into a patient’s journey with us.”

Emma Barraclough
Food Services Manager -Counties Manukau

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