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.