Seeking trendsetters in LTC, senior living

Published in FSD Update

ANFP wants to promote and highlight foodservice innovation among operators.

By 
Paul King, Editor

The Association of Nutrition and Foodservice Professionals (ANFP) is making plans to “identify and showcase” innovation in the long-term care (LTC) and senior living markets through its education arm, the National Foodservice Education Foundation (NFEF). At a post-conference session with directors and chefs in these markets at MenuDirections 2014, Kate Dockins, executive director of the NFEF, said the ultimate goal is “to advance the culture of innovation among foodservice professionals in long-term care and senior living.”

Dockins and Jeremy Manners, CDM, a member of the NFEF board and the culinary and nutrition director for West Haven Manor, in Apollo, Pa., were at the conference to present the findings of a survey of dining trends in LTC and senior living. The survey, conducted by Technomic Inc. among 500 residents of such facilities, 500 family members of residents and 400 ANFP members, was the first step toward reaching NFEF’s goal, the pair said. (See “Neighborhood Model Need Grows in LTC.”)

“To get there, we need to break down the barriers between the CDMs (certified dietary managers), the chefs, the dietitians and the executive directors,” Manners said.

Several members of the audience agreed, and Virginia Ohanian, director of culinary and nutrition services at Saint Andrews Estates North, in Boca Raton, Fla., suggested that the industry could benefit from at least a conference devoted exclusively to senior living foodservice professionals.

One main result of the Technomic study revealed that most LTC facilities are shifting from a medical model to a neighborhood model, the result for foodservice being an increase in the variety of meals and the flexibility in meal periods and a growth in the use of such service vehicles as carts and kiosks, snack shops, c-stores and food courts, as well as increased reliance on 24-hour room service and even alcohol service.

The major driver for these changes is the rapidly shifting demographics in LTC. Manners said nursing homes are seeing more people in their 20s for drug and alcohol rehab and middle-age patients coming in for rehab after procedures like knee and hip replacements.

“Nursing homes are no longer just places where people go to pass on,” he said. “They come to live. Resident needs are changing and foodservice has to evolve. Foodservice has a greater role to play and CDMs are more critical than ever.”

However, although such changes will require an investment on the part of LTC operators, Manners said that the majority of LTC operators surveyed said they did not expect to be able to add additional staff or to be able to make a significant investment in foodservice. “Investment will be required, but you can make a lot of changes without investing a lot of money,” he explained, adding that suppliers “can be a valuable resource.”