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Extending Culture Change in Long-Term Care to Resident Meals

Learn how the food service team at HRC Dedham includes residents in the process of meal-making
Extending Culture Change in Long-Term Care to Resident Meals

At Hebrew Rehabilitation Center, we’re reinventing long-term care so seniors can live their best lives. A great part of the resident’s daily life centers around the overall dining experience. At HRC in Dedham, the meals residents share with one another are an important part of their lives.

“Our residents are our greatest critics,” says Meghan Field, Clinical Nutrition Manager. “We are always trying our best to provide food that is nutritious, delicious, satisfying and served properly. Presentation is important.”

Meghan and her team of professional chefs, including Wayan Suwena, create a dining experience that the residents are excited about. “It’s very simple,” says Wayan, “I want our residents to enjoy their food and to have options, and I make sure that the food is fresh. We always try to keep the menu seasonal. We take full advantage of the availability of local produce.”

“Our chicken breasts and ground beef are never frozen,” adds Wayan. “This ensures the best texture and flavor.”

Meghan and Wayan engage the residents in the overall food process. A committee of residents offer suggestions and discuss menu ideas on an ongoing basis. New residents are always welcome to participate. “We listen to our residents, says Meghan. “We want to give them foods they enjoy.” 

On a recent tour of the kitchen area, several residents got a behind-the-scenes look at the dry storage area where they saw a wide range of spices on the shelves. In another area chefs were preparing mashed potatoes. When one resident saw a chef washing and peeling potatoes, he was pleasantly surprised and exclaimed, “They’re not from a box.” 

Learning about the food, where it comes from and the chefs who prepare it are important to the residents. It gives them a greater appreciation for their food. 

When residents sit down at mealtime, the television is turned off and music fills the dining room. The environment is inviting. Residents enjoy being able to talk with one another without distractions. Staff and family members often sit with residents and share a meal. 

 “When residents come into the dining room, the tables are already set. Our entire staff takes an interest in making residents feel special,” says Meghan. Floral arrangements or other centerpieces on the tables add an extra touch. 

“We’re getting ready to start doing food demonstrations on the households,” says Wayan. “Residents are getting excited about this and so am I. It’s another way we can engage the residents to make mealtime special. Maybe we’ll try a stir fry with lots of great veggies and diced chicken in a big wok, served over brown rice.” 

All that will compete with the music are the great smells coming from the kitchen.  

Bill Burgey's picture

About the Blogger

Health Care Marketing Communications Manager

As a member of the Hebrew SeniorLife marketing communications team, Bill Burgey is responsible for leading marketing initiatives for Hebrew Rehabilitation Center.  He takes great pride in working with staff at all levels of the organization to achieve desired results. 

He is responsible for the recent launch of Hebrew Rehabilitation Center’s long-term care lead generation campaign and works on projects to strengthen branding ties between HSL and its health care services.  Bill works with the marketing teams at Boston area hospitals to develop strategic communications plans around...

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My brother Steve, who is 74, lives on the 2 North Household and he often looks forward to meals and says the food is good. I'm very grateful because the meals are his biggest socialization -- he is a solitary person and likes to be in his room alot watching news and sports on TV. He is shown here in the second small photo with one of his tablemates, Ann Braverman, toasting the staff (or maybe toasting one another )with their coffee mugs and they have formed a nice friendship over the meals. I think it is restaurant quality! And the staff is very accommodating about trying to please the residents who want changes, or a la carte, and some of the CNAs have real culinary talents and interests in food presentation and service. Thank you to the entire food service and nutritional department for making this such an important part of the daily life at Newbridge.
Thank you for your kind comments and continued support, Sue!
I want to chime in as the daughter of a resident in Long Term Care who lives in the Memory Support Unit at Newbridge. Many residents in Memory Support need assistance with eating. So far, my mom feeds herself. In my household, growing up, mom always fed me raw vegetables. Carrot sticks, celery sticks and strips of sweet pepper were not reserved for the lunch box or picnics - they often were served at the lunch and dinner table. Flash forward 30-something years to mom coming to live at Newbridge about a year ago. I noticed that green salads were not served with every meal and mom, to this day, loves salad. When I asked that the nutrition department include raw vegetables with mom's meals, they really took it to heart. Every few days a new container of raw foods mom likes are sent to the kitchen in her neighborhood and kept in the refrigerator. The staff have been trained, so no matter who is working at lunch and dinner, they always serve her some of the brightly colored washed and cut vegetables which attract her eye and provide that familiar and satisfying 'crunch' . To the credit of the entire HSL team, because nutrition works closely with nursing, social work and household staff to make sure residents are getting everything they need, my mom's meals are not only nutritious, but really are customized to meet my mom's specific tastes. I am told all the time by staff that mom eats just about everything she is served and I truly believe she is attracted to the plate because they give her the colorful vegetables she has enjoyed throughout her life.
Thank you for sharing your experience, Joanna. We are happy to hear you are pleased with our culinary staff and your mother’s care.

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