Tastes in leisure can come and go, but one pleasure source frequently remains constant: meals. Aside from deriving pleasure from the food itself, people enjoy the social aspects and overall experience of eating. Nursing homes want to make sure that every resident has enjoyable experiences, so nursing home food services are trending towards more efficient models that will make sure everyone gets nutritious meals according to their needs and desires. Mealtimes are also when residents’ family members are most likely to visit, so to maintain occupancy it is important to have high-quality meals.
Every person has their own needs when it comes to food and when those needs aren’t met, it can be disastrous. If someone with a food allergy receives a meal that contains the allergen by mistake, they’re in for an uncomfortable evening at best and a critically dangerous situation at worst. Similarly, an inappropriate number of calories can have negative consequences. If someone who must lose weight for medical purposes gets too many calories, it can be detrimental to their health. A person who does not need to lose weight, however, can become underweight or unhealthy if they receive insufficient calories.
Food service workers can do a lot in nursing homes, but keeping track of everyone’s individual food needs is just short of impossible. Meal cards delineate what each person should receive. Even so, the large number of factors to consider for so many people makes it easy to make mistakes. Mistakes can lead to legal problems for the nursing home and health complications for residents. In the most serious cases, these mistakes can result in pressure ulcers or dehydration.
To make matters even more complicated, nursing homes are supposed to be comfortable environments. No one can expect residents to simply eat whatever is placed in front of them whether they like it or not. When food service workers make a plate for a resident, they must take personal taste into account. Failing to do so detracts from the home-like environment. Nursing homes do their best to provide healthy, satisfying meals based on high-quality ingredients and nutritionist recommendations, so there is no reason that residents should not be able to enjoy their food.
A lot of thought goes into food service, but it is a complicated process that requires extensive training and organization. Modern technology can make it much simpler. Automated food managers analyze the meal cards to keep track of residents’ allergies, preferences and nutritional needs. They can then give food service workers an exact idea of what they should provide to each person and eliminate the extra step of calculating people’s needs by hand. This way, food service can be more accurate and efficient for the residents and less labor-intensive for the workers. Many nursing homes are trending towards adopting these systems and have seen positive results including fewer complaints from residents, happier workers and a reduction in food costs.
At the end of the day, a nursing home is designed to be a comfortable, home-like environment in which residents’ needs are always met. Food is an integral part of culture and comfort, so food service can make or break a resident’s experience. Food service workers try to ensure that each individual’s needs are met, but it is difficult to keep track of everyone. Automated food managers make their jobs easier so they can spend more time interacting with residents and experience fewer frustrations. Especially with increased competition for residents, nursing homes are adopting these new systems to make the dining experience comfortable for everyone. After all, meals are supposed to be fun, not stressful!