"Neighborhood" model need grows in LTC

Published in Healthcare Spotlight

Foodservice operators in long-term care facilities are anticipating a shift in resident care from a medical model to a "neighborhood" model, according to a survey conducted by Technomic for the Association of Nutrition and Foodservice Professionals (ANFP) and the Nutrition & Foodservice Education Foundation (NFEF).

The survey, which involved 500 residents of long-term care facilities, 500 family member decision-makers and 400 ANFP members, indicated that the shift will have to come about to satisfy the expectations of future residents.

“ANFP and NFEF members realize resident demographics and food preferences are changing significantly,” the report concluded. “A younger population is moving in and staying longer, and these residents are more ‘food-centric,’ while being more vocal about food preferences and satisfaction.”

Among foodservice operators, 86% expect menu offerings to change, 71% anticipate more flexibility around the timing of meals and 67% believe their facilities’ dining options will change. Some of those changes will be impacted by local sourcing (75% of operators selected this option) and the desire for organic food (69%), authentic ethnic (68%) and fresh grab and go (58%).

Among the foodservice options most likely to come about in long-term care locations, operators most identified carts/kiosks (38%), snack shops (36%), alcohol service (35%), convenience stores (35%) and food courts (35%).

Among residents who were surveyed, 52% believe their facilities are currently offering enough healthful food. But 40% said they want more snacking options, 39% said they want more fresh food and all-day dining hours and 38% said they want grab-and-go options.

The study also determined that:

  • Foodservice departments need to be more vocal about the value they provide to long-term care facilities in order to “win” bigger budgets
  • Cross-trained staff will be needed in order to develop knowledge and skills in culinary, nutrition and sanitation.