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Six Essential Senior Care Mealtime Elements

Chef serving senior care resident in their room and handing meal tray

Six Essential Senior Care Mealtime Elements

No matter who we are or where we live, mealtimes are often some of the most enjoyable moments of the day. We get to spend time with friends and family. We can order or decide to cook things that will meet our cravings. And we can take a few moments to slow down and relax. For residents of senior or long-term care communities, meals can provide the exact same benefits.

“Mealtimes are a mainstay of life through which residents’ experiences are characterized, exemplified, and magnified,” one study found. To understand just how important meals can be, consider this. They play an integral role in the emotional and psychological connections residents feel with other residents. Meals can help residents manage competing interests with limited resources, and they can provide an element of familiarity and routine that is so important.

On an even more granular level, food and mealtimes can provide three critical components. First, they bring people together. Through what are traditionally communal dining spaces (an area that has been challenging during the Covid pandemic), opportunities are created for socialization that are critical to a person’s mental health.

Second, food provides a sense of control. In a senior care community, this can mean selecting a certain entrée off a menu or even choosing to double up on a helping of green beans instead of receiving a plate of mashed potatoes a particular diner might not even like. With a demographic that tends to lose control of many health-related issues, having control at the dinner table can enhance the importance of mealtime.

Finally, meals provide structure and routine. These points of the day can provide much-needed stabilization and familiarity. In some situations, due to deteriorating mental capacities, the structure meals provide can be critical to a resident’s well-being.

The 3 Principles for Successful Senior Care Dining

Now that we understand the importance of senior care foodservice, what does a successful operation look like? This is an important question, and no matter where you end up in the ensuing discussion, that conversation must always begin with the safety of the residents. First and foremost, successful senior care foodservice should be safe and nourishing, promoting the overall good health of those who eat the food.

According to the Pioneer Network, food and dining are the core components of quality of life in long-term care communities, and they can be defined in three important ways.

STATEMENT 1: Choice of food has a tremendous impact on quality of life.

In fact, some say it actually defines it. Food can provide many amazing benefits, and those positive attributes begin with choices. Ask a few simple questions. What does the resident want? For example, how did he or she do things before moving in, and how can those things be replicated within the community's foodservice program? What to eat, when to eat, where to eat, and with whom are all important things to determine.

STATEMENT 2: We do not assume that just because residents may not be able to make a choice in some parts of their lives, they cannot make choices related to dining.

When both residents and staff are well-educated on matters of choice, when staff is trained to look for the right things, and when residents have consistent relationships with staff members who can advocate for them, even residents with impaired decision-making capabilities can experience choice as it relates to dining. Studies show that cognitive impairment does not impact choice-making, and people with mild to moderate cognitive impairment can still provide input on food choices and successfully make many of those decisions. Let’s honor this.

STATEMENT 3: Mealtime dining studies provide evidence that enabling residents to choose what they want to eat at mealtime does not result in negative nutritional outcomes.

In fact, it's quite the opposite. When residents have a choice at mealtimes, it actually enhances the nutritional impact of meals. Even more important, it increases not just resident satisfaction, but also the satisfaction of staff, caregivers, and family members.

Partners in success: Lakeside can help promote the positive benefits of foodservice in senior care communities.

Lakeside foodservice believes in honoring residents' fundamental right to self-determination at mealtime. Bringing hot, safe, flexible meal choices to residents is our goal and we are here to help your community accomplish this with SuzyQ carts, hydration carts, action stations, and more.

SuzyQ: Key Choice Concepts with Suzanne

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How Digital Tools are Transforming Foodservice

Chef Taking Food Inventory

Are you interested in improving efficiency, increasing output, and reducing food waste in your restaurant or other foodservice business? If you are, it may be time to get technical. That's right, technology is playing an increasingly important role in the foodservice industry.

According to an article in Forbes magazine, we owe many of the improvements in the production, packaging, shelf life, and safety of food to improved technology in the food industry. From drone farmworkers to robotic butchers, technology is impacting all areas of food production and distribution. For example, satellite imagery helps monitor weather patterns that can affect the timing of planting and harvesting. Farm drones pinpoint diseased crops so that pesticides can be applied precisely where they're needed instead of blanket bombing entire fields. Advanced packaging can improve food safety, increase shelf life, and help eliminate waste.

Going Green

Technology can even help your business go green. An app such as Copia can keep track of your food inventory to help you make more informed purchasing decisions. It will also help you reduce food waste by connecting you with local non-profits who can make good use of your surplus food.

After-school programs, shelters, and other programs will benefit from that surplus while you reap the tax benefits of your donations. Not only that, but you'll no longer be contributing to the 40% of American food that gets wasted each year. That's an important point for many customers, especially millennials and generation Z.

Sustainability is a major concern for many of these younger customers. They may even choose a place to eat based on it. Reducing water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions go hand in hand with reducing food waste. So too does sourcing food locally, since it reduces the fuel and emissions associated with long-distance shipping. Not only is improved sustainability beneficial to the planet, but it also benefits your bottom line through lower food costs and an increased customer base.

Managing Inventory and Production Schedules

Use technology to help you with more accurate inventory management so that you always know what to order and when. You can also use it to manage your production schedule in order to improve efficiency and reduce wasteful overproduction. According to the non-profit ReFED organization, you can save thousands of dollars annually just by using technology to track and reduce waste.

Digital tools transforming foodservice is just one trend to look for in 2021. Learn more about the top food and beverage trends of the new year in our recorded webinar, “Top 10 Foodservice Trends of 2021”.

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Food As Medicine – An Intro Guide

Fruit and Medicine Bottles

If there's one thing we learned in the past year, it's that our health is the most important thing we have. And as we know, one of the most important aspects to staying healthy is eating a healthy diet. Yes, food is important because it helps us stay healthy.

Eating a healthy well-balanced diet year-round is key in keeping your immune system healthy. Fresh fruits and vegetables give us many of the vitamins and minerals our body craves and prevents infections. While supplements can be useful, it's better to get what you need from fresh or frozen foods and not a capsule. Hospitals and senior care communities across the country know this, and that's why food is often viewed as medicine — food has the power to heal.

With cold and flu season in full swing, now is the time to do everything necessary to keep our bodies healthy and free from disease. Especially in the age of COVID-19, bodies need these six beneficial vitamins and ingredients:

Vitamin C

Your mother probably told you to drink your orange juice because it was packed with vitamin C, and you should always listen to mom. The simple reason it's so important is that it may increase white blood cell production, which helps to fight viruses, bacteria, and infections.

Foods packed with vitamin C include:

  • Grapefruit
  • Oranges
  • Tangerines
  • Red bell peppers
  • Broccoli

Not only do these foods help boost immunity, but they're also great for maintaining skin and eye health.

Vitamin E

Not always thought of as the most common vitamin when boosting immunity, but vitamin E is a powerhouse. Packed with antioxidants, which help protect cells against free radicals, vitamin E is important for eye, blood, and brain health.

Foods full of vitamin E include:

  • Almonds
  • Peanuts
  • Seeds
  • Avocado
  • Spinach
  • Canola oil
  • Olive oil

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is super important in that it is anti-inflammatory and may help antibodies respond to toxins in the body. It's also fat-soluble, which means it's best to include healthy fats with it to aid in absorption.

Important for vision and cell division and reproduction, here are some common foods packed with vitamin A.

  • Carrots
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Butternut squash
  • Spinach
  • Dairy products
  • Cantaloupe
  • Dark leafy greens

Iron

Iron helps support immune health. It is a key nutrient in helping develop white blood cells and mobilizing their response. Iron is also crucial to blood health and reproductive health.

Need more iron in your diet? Try these foods.

  • Chicken
  • Red meat
  • Turkey
  • Oysters
  • Clams
  • Canned tuna

Zinc

In order to produce new immune system cells, zinc must be present. Unfortunately for us, zinc is a mineral our body doesn't produce, so we need to get it elsewhere. It's typically found in shellfish (oysters, crab, lobster), but eating yogurt or chickpeas will also do the trick.

The thing about zinc is that you need it for healthy immune function, but getting too much of it can have the opposite effect and impair immunity.

Garlic

Garlic isn't used to just season food or give you stinky breath, but it contains a myriad of compounds to support immune system health. It has been shown to reduce stress hormones and increase the production of T-cells. This superstar may also lower blood pressure and cholesterol according to recent clinical trials. Used throughout the ages to treat colds and infections, soldiers even used it in World War II to prevent gangrene.

The concept of "food as medicine" is just one trend to look for in 2021. Learn more about the top food and beverage trends of the new year in our recorded webinar, “Top 10 Foodservice Trends of 2021”.

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Webinar: Top 10 Foodservice Trends of 2021

Top 10 Foodservice Trends of 2021

Webinar: Top 10 Foodservice Trends of 2021

Your world has been dominated by shifts and progressions, forcing the evolution of your operations. So how can you keep up?

After months of surveys, conversations, trainings, and research, we’ve identified 10 foodservice trends to help you rise into the new year.

You’ll learn:

  • The top 10 foodservice trends in 2021
  • How other businesses and industries are adapting
  • How to implement these strategies for yourself

Reserve your spot now!

Recorded Webinar

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2020 Year in Review: Senior Care Foodservice

Here are the highlights of our senior care foodservice blogs from this year.

Senior care communities were put on high alert early on during the Coronavirus pandemic. With residents at a higher risk than most, it has been vital for senior care staff to continue to deliver necessary foodservice safely. Meal delivery during COVID-19 has never been as important, and with the right tools, it was being done in a safe, effective manner. The changes we saw over the course of 2020 will no doubt impact how senior care foodservice is handled as we embark on the new year.

Here are the biggest takeaways of the significant changes we witnessed in senior care foodservice in 2020.

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The COVID Resource Roundup

If there was one word to describe 2020, “uncertainty” has to be at the top of the list.

The world has completely changed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the ability to adapt and adjust to this new world we live in, especially in foodservice, has never been more critical. Here at Lakeside, our first instinct is to help our customers, whether it’s through in-room meal solutions in healthcare, sanitization in restaurants, or meal delivery and accessibility in K-12 and colleges and universities.

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Did Someone Order Delivery? In-Room Service Gains Traction

In-Room Service Gains Traction Amongst Hospitals & Care Facilities Across The Country

The limitations and closures of gathering points in hospitals due to COVID-19 have impacted in-room service. However, special attention to in-room service was gaining traction well before the pandemic began. Doctors have always said food can be more than fuel for your body, and with the right nutrients, it can help in the healing process too. Some hospitals are using that concept, as well as patient experience, to change the stereotypes of hospital food for the better and improve patient satisfaction.  Let's take a look at three healthcare facilities in particular that have started to take a more hospitality-inspired approach to in-room service.

UCLA HEALTH SYSTEM

Open 6:45 a.m. until 7:30 p.m., UCLA offers a restaurant ordering system where the kitchen cooks meals on-demand with menus updated to physician requested, plant-based meals with protein optional additions. Regularly scheduled tray service is still available to neuropsychiatry patients, which is why UCLA's kitchen is separated into two sections to cater to both types of services.

Keeping in mind there is a 90-minute window between mealtimes, UCLA staff alternates between making and sending 25 trays to 1 unit in neuropsychiatric care and cooking and delivering room service tickets. This staggered approach has eliminated many challenges associated with offering both services.

Room service at UCLA is promised to arrive within 45 minutes but averages 28 minutes. What's their secret? Food lifts.

Each floor has a dedicated cart with a timer for seven minutes. The cart is wheeled into the lift,  sent up to its designated floor, and the patient is immediately notified. To ensure quality, the cart enters into a pantry where hot and cold additions are added just before being taken to the patient, and the meal is delivered with food and drinks at the correct temperatures.

JOHNS HOPKINS HEALTH SYSTEM

John Hopkins offers Hotel-style, on-demand room service to their patients. They name this style of service the Johns Hopkins At Your Request program. Doctors realized there was a lot of food waste when they had patients ordering the day before, resulting in many being unavailable to receive their meals.

The John Hopkins At You Request program gives patients the flexibility to order their meals anytime between 6:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. and receive it within 60 minutes. To better accommodate nutritional diets prescribed to patients, John Hopkins also provides a nutritional department to help assist in meal decisions. Their diverse menu options are a significant factor in the success of the program.

The freedom to choose between traditional hospital foods like meatloaf and upscale items like salmon makes the patient feel satisfied with their meal experience, even when they don't order the extravagant items. In fact, the majority stick with the traditional items, while the occasional upscale orders bring comfort to patients and family members who need it.

ST. JUDE CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL

St. Jude's primary focus is on young patients and their families. Patients aren't limited to in-hospital care, as many of their outpatients go through treatment at nearby housing sponsored by St. Jude and receive their customized meals there. They use a Combi Oven to deliver quality food within expectations of 30 – 45 minutes. As for their future plans for servie? They're expected to upgrade their systems to TV-operated ordering services and explore newer cooking technologies. Nonetheless, their specialty is in the services they provide.

Considering the age of their patients, their happiness is a priority. The chef often greets patients with a hug and smile, with meals that are fully specialized to encourage the patient to eat and heal. So much so, that patients have even gone to the kitchen to teach the chefs how to make their food!

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The Impacts of Robotics in Health Care

Healthcare Robotics- Lakeside

In today's environment, the healthcare industry has leaned heavily on technological advancements, particularly through the use of robotics and artificial intelligence.

Like many other industries, healthcare is impacted by a diverse group of factors. From the rising cost of coverage to meeting the challenges associated with labor shortages in the field, things are constantly changing. In order to deal with the reality of this landscape, the healthcare industry has leaned heavily on the technological advancements of today, particularly through the use of robotics and artificial intelligence.

Twenty-first-century healthcare has improved through these advancements, tapping into the potential of delivering quality care like never before. In a field that is overworked and in many cases understaffed, see how these new technologies are improving hospitals and care facilities all over the world. 

Robots Allow Clinicians More Time With Patients

A common misconception out there is that robotic technology and artificial intelligence will replace the healthcare labor force. This simply is not true. The job of these technologies is to complement clinicians’ skill sets, reduce workload, and free up time for healthcare professionals to carry out tasks and activities that will have a greater impact on patient care. Instead of carrying out administrative or repetitive tasks, clinicians can leave some of those responsibilities to robots, and focus on the aspect of their job that matters most: caring for their patients.

On average, primary care physicians work 11.2 hours per day. Nearly six of those work hours are spent interacting with electronic health data and records. There simply is too much data for one person or even a team of doctors to consume and analyze. With the help of robotic technology, and more specifically, AI systems, machines can scan thousands of records and cases in an instant, picking out correlations and patterns that can help treat patients with stunning accuracy. In a profession where time is of the essence, robots and AI can make amazing contributions with both speed and accuracy, allowing for longer, and more dedicated one-on-one care for doctors to have with their patients.

Covering Common Procedures

In most healthcare facilities, there are standard procedures that must be administered regularly to patients. Drawing blood, checking blood pressure, and administering shots are procedures that should be achieved regularly and with the same attention to detail. For these tasks, robots could prove to be quite an asset.

A recent study published by the journal Technology revealed some pretty remarkable findings. In the study, a robot device was successful at administering blood 87 percent of the time on the 31 participants in the trial. In previous studies, health care professionals recorded only a 73 percent success rate of patients with visible veins, while the robot device was successful 97 percent of the time. Utilizing robotic technology for these practices would guarantee that they were performed properly each time and save precious time for medical staff.

Improved Accuracy

In an industry where accuracy is critical and often the difference in life or death, developing technology that boosts accuracy to the next level is critical. In order to provide accurate diagnosis and treatments for patients, all data collected must be accurate. With robotics, administrative and recurring clinical duties, such as monitoring patient vitals or inputting patient data, will be achieved with remarkable efficiency.

The precision found in these robotics is unmatched by the human hand and potential errors that can happen. Take the Da Vinci surgical robot for instance. This amazing device has completed well over 6 million surgeries worldwide and equips surgeons with the ability to perform minimally invasive surgery with astounding accuracy. In addition, studies have shown that surgeries with this robot have resulted in far fewer complications following operations. With the help of robotics, surgeons will benefit from these devices greatly. By delivering small, precise incisions, robots provide immense value, allowing surgeons to not worry about possible human error such as fatigue or lack of range of motion.

Implementation Across The Entire Healthcare Landscape

Globally, Robot technology in healthcare facilities has ramped up because their benefits are too good to ignore. Not only do they allow for improved patient care, but they also impact cost savings and waste reduction, to name a few perks.

Throughout the United States, Automated Pharmacies that utilize robotic technologies are becoming extremely popular. Robots can update records sent from the hospital, label, package, store and fill prescriptions with ease and undeniable accuracy. Again, this allows pharmacists to free up time to educate themselves on medications and provide valuable insight and consultation for patients.

One of the rising trends in healthcare is telemedicine. With a shortage of health care professionals and the unavailability of specialized care in some remote locations, robotics provide a real solution to this issue. Complete with full audio, video, and camera capabilities, these telerobots provide timely communication, data tracking and enable clinicians the ability to remotely log in and speak with a patient.

Looking Ahead

There’s no denying, robotics and AI technology are rapidly changing the healthcare industry. Because of the many benefits related to cost, accuracy, and accessibility, care facilities are catching on and adopting these remarkable assets into their everyday operation. From surgical assistant robots to machines who carry out non-patient facing tasks like stocking and cleaning, these technologies are improving healthcare by leaps and bounds.