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Making it Feel Just Like Home: Highlighting The Resident Experience

They live here, it’s their home

Unlike patients in a hospital, residents in Senior Living Communities are there for an extended period of time making it their home.  Before moving into their community, they had their favorite grocery store, their own kitchen, their own menu plans, their own snacks, and their own schedule.  Now they are in a place where they don’t have any of that and are at the mercy of the food service department to prepare for them appetizing meals properly served at times that often meet the needs of staff scheduling rather than the individual resident.

As a Certified Dietary Manager, Chef or Food Service Director, we can make a huge impact on the daily lives of so many.  We just need to keep in mind each day that the place we call work or the job, is someone’s home.  The people you are serving each have their own likes and dislikes and all are counting on you and your team to cook a nice meal for them three times per day, every day. That is quite a trust and quite a responsibility.

The Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA) encourages residents to look at their community for a general philosophy of care based on 10 principles:

  • Offering cost-effective quality care personalized for the individual’s needs
  • Fostering independence for each resident
  • Treating each resident with dignity and respect
  • Promoting the individuality of each resident
  • Allowing each resident choice of care and lifestyle
  • Protecting each resident’s right to privacy
  • Nurturing the spirit of each resident
  • Involving family and friends in care planning and implementation
  • Providing a safe, residential environment
  • Making the assisted living community a valuable asset to the surrounding community

The State of California offers the following regulations in Continuing Care Retirement Communities Resident’s Rights:

All residents in residential living units shall have all of the following rights:

 (1) To live in an attractive, safe, and well maintained physical environment.

(2) To live in an environment that enhances personal dignity, maintains independence, and encourages self-determination.

(3) To participate in activities that meet individual physical, intellectual, social, and spiritual needs.

(4) To expect effective channels of communication between residents and staff, and between residents and the administration or provider’s governing body.

(5) To receive a clear and complete written contract that establishes the mutual rights and obligations of the resident and the continuing care retirement community.

(6) To maintain and establish ties to the local community.

(7) To organize and participate freely in the operation of resident associations.

Once again, we see a hospitality viewpoint for service and care for residents.  This is often a challenge when we are taking care of the same diverse group of individuals every single day.  Often, we are prone to be a little less attentive or a little less aware of our surroundings when we are doing the same things day in day out in the same location with the same people.  It is not what I would call lazy as much as it is becoming “too comfortable”.

So how do we keep things interesting each day?  Frankly, it is time for some help and direction from the outside. A program such as the Pineapple Academy can help increase employee engagement and increase creativity through building the knowledge base of the food and service team.  A few minutes a day of learning about culinary arts and customer service will increase team member pride and professionalism.

Greg Gorgone, Co-Founder

April 2020






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