Senior-living facility asks residents for a touch of home

The foodservice incorporates family recipes into the menu rotation.

Published in Wellness Watch

By 
Katie Fanuko, Associate Editor

senior couple eating meal assisted living

As The Terrace at Phoebe Allentown transitions to its fall/winter menu, a few recipes will be as close to home cooking as some residents can get. The dishes are based on recipes provided by the residents themselves.

The recipes are solicited from some residents and then presented to the facility’s general population for fine tuning before being mixed into the menu rotation. Dining services (managed by Cura Hospitality) held its first menu-sampling event last week to ensure everyone liked what a few knew from home. The items ranged from lobster rolls to cranberry stuffing.

The event is the latest step in Cura’s effort to shape the foodservice around residents’ input. “We just wanted to get positive feedback and have happy residents,” says Kim Wilson director of dining services for Cura at the Allentown, Pa.-based senior living facility.

In August, Wilson placed promotional flyers and suggestion boxes throughout the building, encouraging residents to provide fall menu ideas. While it’s too soon to quantify how Cura’s latest efforts have boosted resident satisfaction, Wilson wasn’t lacking in residents willing to share their opinion. A number of residents submitted family recipes that Wilson believed were versatile enough to warrant executing for meal service.

After selecting recipes, Wilson sat down with residents—such as a couple that submitted a haluski (a cabbage and noodle dish) recipe—to learn more about preparation details to relay to kitchen staff.

She strives to give residents a behind-the-scenes perspective as part of the process.  Residents with featured recipes were allowed to tour the kitchen facility so that they could see how their recipe will be scaled, prepared and served.

They also worked closely with staff to ensure the scaled-up versions tasted the way they remembered. After the cranberry stuffing recipe was ready to roll, the submitter invited her family to taste the recreated dish. “Everyone got to try it and she was very, very pleased,” Wilson said.

Family recipes that hit a high mark with residents also can be added to Cura’s “always available” menu, Wilson says.

She hopes to make menu tastings a monthly event to continually gauge customer feedback. “I want to get them involved and make them feel like they have responsibilities… and to make sure that we’re on task,” Wilson says.

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