Webinar: Senior Care Meal Delivery in the Age of COVID-19

Providing great meal Service during COVID-19 crisis when dining rooms can't be used - solutions for Health Care communities

This webinar will provide a review of COVID19 and what we as Food Service professionals need to lean into during this national crisis.  Topics covered will include

  1.     Infection control
  2.     Good food handling techniques
  3.     Sanitation
  4.     Staff communication
  5.     Practical ideas on providing meal service when a dining room can't be used
  6.     Resources to support your leadership role needs during this uncertain time

Speaker: Suzanne Quiring is a Registered Dietitian both in Canada and USA. She is a member of Dietitians of Canada, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietetics in Health Care Communities, CSNM and ANFP, and has her Continuinng Care Administration qualifications. She has 25+ years experience in the Long Term Care industry as Director of Food Services, Dietitian, and consultant. Suzanne has personally worked in all areas of Residential Care, and assisted over 800+ communities through North America with improving the dining experience through person centered care. She is the inventor of the SuzyQ carts (reg & mini) and has been support communities for 20+ years with person centered dining. She has an appreciation as to the practical and real challenges of providing great meal service to residents, and leans on evidence-based science to guide her professional practice. The hope of the webinar is to provide support and encouragement to food service professionals during this COVID19 crisis.


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Senior Care Meal Delivery in the Age of COVID-19

As we’ve seen over the last few weeks and months, the coronavirus and the subsequent disease it causes, COVID-19, can have horrific effects on the residents and staff in senior care communities.

In part, this is likely due to the fact the disease has harsher impacts on our older population. It is also likely attributed to the close quarters in which everyone lives in senior care and long term communities. This means it’s even more important to make sure meal preparation and delivery are completed with care.

As a result, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have issued new guidelines for these types of operations. It puts critical limitations on visitors and personnel who have access to senior and long-term care communities in order to help shield residents from potential infection.

“As we learn more about the Coronavirus from experts on the ground, we’ve learned that seniors with multiple conditions are at the highest risk for infection and complications, so CMS is using every tool at our disposal to keep nursing homes free from infection,” said CMS Administrator Seema Verma. “Temporarily restricting visitors and nonessential workers will help reduce the risk of Coronavirus spread in nursing homes, keeping residents safe. The Trump Administration is working around the clock to ensure the continued safety of America’s health care system, particularly nursing homes.”

This is where the SuzyQ Cart System can help foodservice directors.

We’ve talked about how SuzyQ can benefit both residents and operators in a dining room setting. There’s no doubt it can help solve labor challenges and provide for self-determined meal choices in group settings, but it can also do that in other ways, as well.

One of the ways senior care communities are required to fight the potential spreading of the coronavirus is to eliminate meal times in the dining hall to avoid a cluster of too many people at once. As a result, these meals are now being taken directly to the residents’ rooms for in-room dining.

Now, this is where self-determined meals can be even more important. Because foods need to be transported across longer distances, preserving the quality of food and providing residents with choice a critical way to meet person-centered guidelines while avoiding food waste and preserving safety.

The state-of-the-art delivery SuzyQ Cart System contains features that provide these types of benefits. It’s guest-pleasing and cost-saving for operators.

Lakeside & Multiteria are here to help in this time of need.  Please review our collection of solutions specifically for Senior Care Communities.

We are all in this together and will come out of this together, stronger than ever.

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Practical and Proven Ways to Maximize the Dining Experience

Choice. Dignity. Self-determination. Relationships. Respect.

These are key principles in culture change conversations and represent values that we all know are important in daily living.  But when it comes to the dining room, these virtues are often missing.

For decades, meal service has typically been done by tray service, pass-through window, or a stationary kitchen set-up. Staff take many steps to deliver meals. Items are often pre-poured or pre-plated by staff using preference lists because they just “know the resident.” Staff then simply set meals down in front of residents without really talking to them. This method is often referred to as restaurant-style serving, but if I went into a restaurant, and staff assumed they knew what I wanted, without asking, I wouldn’t leave a tip or return. Residents unfortunately don’t have this luxury, as this is now their home. Too many assumptions are made on behalf of the resident, and this is a fundamental problem in our industry.

10 Tips for a Better Senior Care Dining Experience

Here are some easy and practical ideas on how to honor choice, increase variety, and set up self-directed dining, all which meet CMS regulations.

    • Start an Enhanced Dining Committee or Learning Circle with family, residents, and staff to evaluate and recommend ways to improve the dining experience. The goal is to evaluate the dining experience for self-determination, décor, flow, and make suggestions as a team.
    • Put management on a coffee serving rotation so they have a regular weekly presence in the dining room, not just passing through, but actually being present for the meal hour.
    • Have serving staff circulate through the dining room and offer second helpings. Meal service should be at least one hour from start to finish.
    • Make continental breakfast available from 6:30 am – 10 am, along with a hot breakfast option. A relaxed breakfast is becoming the industry standard.
    • Send out an anonymous survey to get feedback about the dining experience from family, residents, and staff. You might be surprised what you learn!
    • Show residents the menu choices on sample plates before food is plated, and then let them decide if and how much they would like to be served.
    • Offer breakfast on demand where waffles, French toast, or omelets are made to order in the dining room with an action station.
    • Have the cook wear a chef jacket, and equip the serving staff with crisp, clean serving aprons and name tags. It gives a professional appearance, and the residents love knowing and interacting with the people who are responsible for making their meals.
    • Make salad plates in front of the resident directly from a mobile food cart. Offer a variety of choices of salad toppings.
    • Stimulate their senses by plugging in a bread maker machine and filling the air with the aroma of fresh-baked bread.
    • Allow for open seating so that residents have the flexibility to sit wherever they wish with the company they choose.
    • Encourage staff to eat their meals in the dining room with the residents. To encourage socialization, some communities give discounted meals to employees who participate in this way.
    • Turn off the TV and play music that's from the era of the residents (1920’s-1950’s); don't play "Top 40" simply because the staff enjoys it.
    • Have a “Question of the Day” on the dining room table to help facilitate conversation (e.g., What was your first job? What was your favorite vacation and why?). Encourage staff to ask residents and each other this question.
    • Use caution on how quickly employees clear the dining room to prevent residents from feeling rushed out of their space. Allow the residents to linger, and staff to find other tasks to do. Leave the dirty dish cart out of the dining room until all residents have left.
    • Institutional gloves and hairnets look terrible. Instead, wash hands and use serving utensils, unless staff members are directly touching the food with their hands. Always follow food safety principles.

Summing It Up

On a daily basis, residents should have the flexibility to choose what, if, and how much they would like to eat and drink in their own home. It is our job as CDMs to provide nourishing and timely meals, but not to choose for residents.

How would you rate your community’s dining experience? Is your meal service system honoring a person-centered philosophy? What way are you currently doing your meal service and why?

Learn more and continue the conversation.

Take the dining experience quiz which only takes a few minutes to fill out.  Afterwards, you'll learn tips and tricks on where you can improve and you'll also have the opportunity to coordinate a call with Suzanne to discuss your results.

About Suzanne Quiring:
Suzanne Quiring, RD, CDM, CFPP has worked in residential care for over 25 years and has her Continuing Care Administrator designation. She has assisted over 800 healthcare centers and improved their meal programs with tableside service. She is the inventor of the “SuzyQ Cart System” by Lakeside. She has spoken at conferences throughout North America and is passionate about self-directed dining.