3 Phrases to Remember in Senior Care Dining
Foodservice in a senior care community or nursing home can be a tricky balance. On one hand, you have to make sure meals are safe and nutritious for residents. On the other hand, you have to empower residents to make decisions on their own. In reality, these two things don’t have to be in opposition to one another.
According to the Pioneer Network’s New Dining Practice Standards, food and dining requirements are core components of quality of life and care in senior care communities. Let’s go through three important phrases from their findings and see why.
STATEMENT 1: Choice of food has a tremendous impact on quality of life.
In fact, some say it actually defines it. Food can provide many amazing benefits, and those positive attributes begin with choices. Ask a few simple questions. What does the resident want? For example, how did they do things before moving in, and how can those things be replicated within the community’s foodservice program? What to eat, when to eat, where to eat, and with whom are all important things to determine. Provide real choice, not token choices like the difference between hot and cold cereal.
STATEMENT 2: We do not assume that just because residents may not be able to make a choice in some parts of their lives, they cannot make choices related to dining.
When both residents and staff are well-educated on matters of choice, when staff are trained to look for the right things, and when residents have consistent relationships with staff members who can advocate for them, even residents with impaired decision-making capabilities, can experience choice as it relates to dining. Studies show that cognitive impairment does not impact choice-making, and people with mild to moderate cognitive impairment can still provide input on food choice and successfully and make many of those decisions.
STATEMENT 3: Mealtime dining studies provide evidence that enabling residents to choose what they want to eat at mealtime does not result in negative nutritional outcomes.
In fact, it’s quite the opposite. When residents have choice at mealtimes, it actually enhances the nutritional impact of meals. Even more important, it increases not just resident satisfaction, but also the satisfaction of staff, caregivers, and family members.
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