A changing dynamic

Long-time FSD in long-term care sees the foodservice model changing.

If you want to know how dramatically the healthcare model is changing in long-term care, start with the wine. At least, that’s what Rich Daehn says.

“We have started wine lists, where guests can order wine with dinner,” says Daehn, the corporate director of culinary services for Benedictine Health System (BHS), the Duluth, Minn.-based company that operates 40 nursing homes and senior living facilities in seven Midwestern states. “Ten years ago, I would never have thought we’d be serving wine in a nursing home. So things are definitely changing. It’s a different model altogether.”

The food is changing, as well. Even Daehn’s title reflects the altered dynamics that are leading long-term care, with “Culinary Services” in place of “food services”—or even “dining services.”

“We’re offering much different types of foods,” says Daehn, as we talk at Tuscan, the Italian bistro in Daehn’s hometown of Lake Geneva, Wis. “These are not your meatloaf and baked chicken menus any more.”

Well, he admits, that could be a bit of an overstatement. There is still a place for the old standards. But there is no denying that the breadth of menus in long-term care facilities is growing. Daehn points out that not only are menus becoming broader, they no longer come in one size. That is, the menu at each BHS facility is unique to that program, in order to reflect the tastes of that particular unit.

It’s all part of the shift from a healthcare model to a customer-centered model—BHS calls them guests, by the way; not residents and certainly not patients no matter what their condition.

Daehn likens what culinary services at BHS is doing to the Disney model. “At Disney parks, they build a berm around the outside so that when you’re in the park, you don’t think about the outside world,” he says. “That’s what we’re trying to create in our dining rooms. We want them to forget they’re in a healthcare model. They are there to enjoy a meal, spend time with friends to have an enjoyable social time. That’s what we’re trying to create in all of our buildings.”

For more on what Rich Daehn is doing at Benedictine, be sure to read our June issue.

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