Facilities Innovate with Purchasing, Plates

Long-term care facilities in Pennsylvania and Connecticut are controlling costs in different ways: one by standardizing purchases and another using bright-colored plates to increase patient/resident consumption and reduce food waste.

Diakon, a Lutheran social services ministry with a network of 18 senior living facilities based in Topton, PA, is seeking a 10% reduction in f/s costs by standardizing purchasing and staffing functions—which will be carried out by its new foodservice contractor, Cura Hospitality.

Diakon's contract with Cura runs for five years, and covers production and service of some 70,000-plus meals weekly among 40 dining rooms. The network includes 16 assisted- and skilled-living facilities plus two continuing care facilities in Pennsylvania and Maryland.

Cura gets to work: Cura will leverage Diakon's purchasing volume for better pricing with a new accounting system. Called CuraWorks, the system specifies product for optimal use, including those products Cura purchases direct from manufacturers.

An eight-person menu development team created a core menu for Diakon incorporating regional favorites. Team members consist of Cura culinary staff and unit operators.

The staff scheduling model creates workflows for every position, and states exactly what each employee does while on the job. "We were very non-standardized" prior to the Cura contract, says Mark Pile, ceo of Diakon.

"We wanted to capture savings yet enhance quality. By standardizing staffing and leveraging food buying, the savings are in the millions."

Wasting away: Waste has decreased at the Alzheimer's Resource Center in Plattsville, CT, since fsd Peter Riccio began serving food on brightly colored plates.

"These residents lead a very structured existence so serving food on different colored plates increases their sensory involvement," he says. "Some of them don't even remember to eat and some don't remember to stop."

Colorful dining: "Research has shown that the ability to distinguish light colors decreases with age, so a white plate on a white tablecloth was hard for residents to see. These plates are brighter, cheerier and less mundane and we've even noticed some weight gain."

Riccio is using Fiesta china in a variety of colors, except white and black "because black is depressing and not appropriate. And we try not to lose food in the color of the plate; scrambled eggs would disappear on a yellow plate so we garnish well."

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