Be Your Best: bread and butter

Sunday, May 26, 2024
Be Your Best: bread and butter
Preparing 400 meals a day is Di Walker’s bread and butter.

Di has worked at the service for nearly 30 years and has witnessed many changes.

Her tenure began in 1994 when she worked in the canteen serving free breakfasts to staff members, and then progressed to working as a café barista. She reflects on her time in customer service fondly.

“Some people are on for a chat to you. They’ll come in and tell you a joke or something. They stir you up, and you stir them back. I liked the banter,” she said.

These days, you will find Di in the plating room of the kitchen working for Downer.

“It was a bit different plating up the meals for patients every day, but I enjoy it, so I have been there ever since,” Di said.

Despite the change in roles over time, one thing remains the same.

“We have a bit of banter in the plating room,” she said.

With the move to the new Bendigo Hospital in 2017, robots were introduced that transport supply, linen and meal trays to wards.

The team is able to fit 24 meals on each trolley. They program the robots to take the meals to the wards where they are then heated.

Di said the investment in technology has greatly improved the efficiency of their processes.

The kitchen where patient meals are prepared is a fascinating place to explore. The attention to detail is evident and the efficiency of the kitchen is like a well-oiled machine.

“We go in and do the brekkie conveyor belt, and then we plate up meals for the whole day. There might be 400 or so, so you’ve got to make sure it’s all there,” Di said.

“It’s full on, because you’ve got so much to do.”

Despite being kept on her toes, Di can see herself here until retirement.

“It’s been very good, I wouldn’t have been here for 30 years if it wasn’t. My sister has been here 30 years too, and because of all the changes we are now actually working in the same room. It brought us closer, because we used to fight all the time,” Di said, laughing.

During Di’s time with Downer and Bendigo Health, she has experienced times of poor mental health, and is thankful for the support that has been provided to get her through difficult times.

“The health service was very good. My boss was ringing me up and checking on me and they were great,” she said.

“They are supportive, there’s plenty of help out there if you need it.”

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