Top 4 Ways to Safely and Effectively Provide Meals to Senior Residents
If there is one thing that contributes more to the quality of life for those living in senior communities, it's the dining program. The meals throughout the day is something residents look forward to so they can spend time with their companions and enjoy a nice meal. That being said, it is critical to safely provide those meals and effectively meet the needs of the residents. Consider these 4 tips to improve your foodservice program and enhance your dining program:
1. Meal Preparation
The first step to meal preparation is discovering what food items your community desires. An effective way to do this is to conduct a survey throughout the community and share this feedback with your menu development team. Keep in mind that Boomers expect a variety of choices, so it is encouraged to add new things to the menu. After receiving those suggestions, you may find it beneficial to contact a dietician to review a possible menu to be sure it is nutritionally balanced. Having fresh, healthy options on the menu is especially important when feeding elders considering more than 26% of elders have diabetes and over 70% have a cardiovascular disease, according to Alexander Olsen.
2. Establishing a Welcoming Atmosphere
Depending on the community and level of care that is needed, many residents do not have the opportunity to “get out” much. An inviting atmosphere in the dining room will gather more people to engage with each other since that is where most meet and greets take place. Establishing an ambiance with music, flowers, etc. will encourage others to eat and surround themselves with fellow companions. In regards to the menu, people tend to eat with their eyes. The meal should be appetizing and appealing through a variety of colors and items from each food group. The quality of service also pertains to the atmosphere so it is important to note that residents appreciate a service provider who is friendly, positive & communicates well.
3. Food Delivery
If your team is unable to safely prepare and serve meals at anytime during the COVID-19 pandemic, there are food service providers that have the capabilities of preparing, pre-packaging & delivering meals to your community. There are about 1.4 to 1.5 million people living in nursing homes, according to Dr. Tanya Gure, each needing assistance with eating and meal preparation. Being able to tend to those needs of each individual is a huge priority and something senior communities should consider.
4. Safety with COVID-19
Due to the current health risks with COVID-19, it is important to operate safely, considering the majority of your community would be classified as high-risk. In the commissary, it is important to understand the importance of cleaning and change the mindset from sanitizing to disinfecting. That is, rather than quickly reducing the bacteria, focus on destroying the bacteria. Those in senior living are most susceptible to the virus and it is not recommended that you rush the cleaning process. Safely serving meals in your community dining room can be a challenge with social distancing guidelines. We recommend that if your dining room is to remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic, that you follow all CDC protocols and recommendation for safe, social distancing. If serving meals safely in your dining room is not an option, you may want to develop a strategy to pre-package & deliver individual meals to your resident's rooms.
We hope you find these tips helpful since the goal of operating a senior community is to meet the needs of the residents and make them feel at home. An easy way to achieve that is through a quality dining program, not only the right way, but also the safe way. Lastly, you can also take the opportunity to consult a food service management company to explore the opportunity to enhance your dining program.
Variety FoodServices is a Michigan-based, food service management company that provides the following on-site food services’: senior community feeding, vending machines, micro markets, café services & corporate catering and more. Please contact us today and we can discuss the best food service options for you!
CONTACT US HERE or at 586-756-8100