If you lived independently since the beginning of adulthood, it means you’re used to preparing your own food and dining as you please. In some cases, the kitchen was the center of your household. As a result. making the transition to a residential facility with communal meals can be difficult and stressful. However, a person-centered dining experience in long-term care can make a big difference, especially to residents still holding on to their independence.
There are many benefits to person-centered dining in a nursing home including:
- Better Nutrition
With an active staff at mealtime, residents are better supervised. Not only can staff promote interaction between the residents, but they can also monitor residents’ eating habits and help them to eat properly. As malnutrition is a concern for this population, the presence and the interaction of staff members with residents make a difference.
- Continuity in Social Interactions
The social isolation experienced by new residents in a nursing home can cause feelings of abandonment and confusion. For some, making connections with others can be a daunting task especially at an advanced age. However, consistent meals with other residents and staff can provide a sense of continuity. This repetition fosters the growth of relationships, which can be both stimulating and affirming for residents.
- Builds Community and Identity
Mealtime is often the center of group celebrations. Birthdays, holidays, and other occasions are marked as a community with cakes, special food options, and decorations. Group celebrations improve community cohesiveness and help build a shared identity with others. This helps decrease feelings of social isolation.
- Resident Empowerment
Coming from a more independent environment, it’s important to allow residents to make their own choices when possible. When entrusted to make decisions for themselves, residents feel empowered. While it’s difficult to cater to the preferences of every resident, opportunities to decide where to eat, with whom to eat, and what to eat always benefit the resident. This is an important aspect of person-centered dining.
What does a Person-Centered Dining Experience look like?
Residents choose their items from a row of chafing dishes or are served meals at the table after the staff plates the food for them.
Food is provided in serving bowls at the table. Just like at home, residents can serve themselves according to their tastes and their appetites.
Staff dining with residents.
Opportunities open up for friendships to form among the residents and those caring for them when staff dines with the residents.
The person-centered dining experience in long-term care can help seniors in a residential facility to adjust to a new living situation, to obtain better nutrition, and to experience an improved quality of life.