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How Should Dining Options be Approached in Nursing Homes?

How Should Dining Options be approached in Nursing HomesHow Should Dining Options be approached in Nursing Homes?

As stated in a post we published last year discussing how to serve the nutritional needs of the elderly, the most common nutritional problems among residents of nursing homes are weight loss and related protein energy malnutrition. While the causes of this are typically related more to the effects of depression or side effects of medications, it does not refute the need for good nutritional care. In fact, it makes nutritional care even more important.

Nursing home and other types of long term care facilities naturally have many mouths to feed, and it can be hard to manage everyone’s individual needs. For example, what if a resident is uncomfortable sitting in the dining room chairs, and as a result skips meals if the dining room is too crowded? This is just one way in which dining options present a challenge in nursing homes.

Linda Bump, a leader in the nursing home culture change movement, as well as a dietitian and licensed nursing home administrator, wrote a book called Life Happens in the Kitchen… How to make the kitchen the heart of your home. In this publication, she writes that when we enhance the dining experience of our elders, we nourish their souls, as well as their bodies. Bump went on to say that as caregivers committed to maximizing the quality of life and quality of care for residents, nursing home administrators and staff  are called to best serve elders’ nutritional needs while best serving their psychological and psychosocial needs. So how can this be done?

Bump recommends that when approaching dining options in nursing homes, administrators should focus on 7 key factors:

Choice. Seniors should have a say in what they eat, when they eat, who they eat with and how leisurely they eat; just as anyone else would.

Accessibility. Food availability for residents should be 24/7.

Individualization. While this may not be feasible in large facilities, getting an idea of residents’ favorite foods and possibly preparing that food for special occasions could go a long way in making those particular residents feel respected, included, and happy.

Liberalized Diets.  Seniors should have the right to choose to follow a restrictive diet.

Food First. According to the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987 (OBRA), food should always be chosen before supplements or before other types of medication such as laxatives.

Quality Service. Staff should aim to know their residents on a fairly personal basis and understand their choices and their preferences.

Responsiveness. The type of service that should be provided to residents of any nursing home or long term care facility should be “relationship-based” service.

At DigniCARE, we understand the importance of the health and well-being of your senior living facility residents. We created our  insurance and risk management program specifically for the senior living industry, which encompasses innovative solutions for assisted living facilities, independent living facilities, nursing homes, and Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC). Please contact us today at (855) 883-6306.

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