2013 LTC/Senior Living Census: Ancillary foodservice locations not popular

Culture change, food trends and meal plans also covered in this year's census.

Culture change, food trends and meal plans also covered in this year's census.

  • There were a total of 297 respondents in our census. Each respondent operates foodservice in at least one of the following arenas: nursing home/skilled nursing/long-term care; assisted living; independent living; or rehabilitation/psychiatric. About half of these respondents’ operations include more than one of these arenas, while the other half has only one of these senior resident options. Eighty-two percent of respondents operate a nursing home/skilled nursing or long-term care facility, 46% assisted living facility, 32% independent living location and 22% rehabilitation or psychiatric facility.
  • The average number of residents to which survey respondents serve at least one meal per day is 161.
  • The majority of operations are self-op, at 85%. Twelve percent are contract managed and 3% are partly self-op and partly contract managed.
  • All respondents offer dinner, and all but one offer lunch. Ninety-nine percent offer breakfast and 93% offer snacks. Only 38% offer late-night options.

Average Number of Foodservice Residents

Meal Plan Options
The majority of operators offer a set-meals-per-time-period plan (for example, 10 meals per week, etc.) or it is included in room and board for their independent living/assisted living residents. Operators that have 300 or more residents were significantly more likely to offer a flex dining option for independent living/assisted living residents than those operations serving fewer than 300 residents per day (48% versus 8%, respectively). Flex dining programs give residents a dollar amount that can be used however and whenever they wish. 

Resident Size Sees Little Change for Most Operations
Overall, most operations saw no change in the population size of their residents in the past two years. For those operators who saw an increase (26%), the average increase in resident size was 17%. However, operators who serve 300 or more residents per day were more likely to see an increase in patient population size in the past two years, with half of these operators reporting a boost. Also, 36% of respondents who operate only independent living facilities, only senior living or a combination of both saw a 23% increase in residents. Conversely, only 15% of those operations that include only nursing homes/long-term care saw an increase in residents; the percent increase in residents was 18%. 

For operators who reported a decline, their average drop was 9%. Locations in the Northeast (17%) were significantly more likely to have a decrease in residents than operations in the remainder of the country (7%).
 

Meal Delivery
Restaurant-style dining is the most offered meal service option, with 70% of operators offering this. There are, however, several significant differences in how meals are offered in larger operations (those that serve 300 or more residents per day) versus smaller operations (those that serve fewer than 300 residents). Restaurant-style dining is one area where size matters. Eighty-eight percent of larger locations offer this service versus 68% in smaller facilities. Differences can also be seen in à la carte dining (72% offer in larger locations versus 28% in smaller operations), room service to independent living or assisted living residents (72% versus 20%, respectively) and buffet style in the dining room (56% versus 22%, respectively). 

Gluten Free Pegged to Grow
The majority of operators believe that offering gluten-free options will increase in the next two years. A significantly higher amount of operators in the West (86%) expect increases in at least one of the following food trends in the next two years, compared to only 69% of operators in the rest of the country. The two food trends that are more likely to increase in the West compared to the remainder of the U.S. in the next two years are vegetarian (68% in the West versus 40% for the rest of the country) and vegan (25% in the West versus 9% for the rest of the country).

Changing the Culture
Half of operators have implemented culture change, which aims to move away from an institution style of care to a person-directed one. These changes can include adding menu options or dining locations outside of the dining room. Other initiatives respondents have implemented include: adding tablecloths and flower arrangements, playing music during meal periods, theme dinners and around the world meals that focus on specific world cuisines and making food available 24 hours a day. Sixty-one percent of those who only operate nursing homes/long-term care facilities have initiated culture change, while only 21% of those who only operate assisted living and/or independent living facilities are doing so. Furthermore, half of those operating only assisted living and/or independent living facilities are not familiar with the culture change initiatives at all compared to only 12% of those operators who only operate nursing homes/long-term care locations.
 

Beyond the dining room

Ancillary Foodservice Locations Not Popular
Half of operators do not offer foodservice in locations outside of dining rooms. For those who do offer foodservice at these ancillary locations, cafés were the most likely option. Those operations that have only assisted living and/or independent living residents are more likely to offer foodservice at ancillary locations (57%) than operations who have only nursing home/skilled nursing/long-term care residents (30%). Also, locations that serve 150 or more residents per day are more likely to offer these ancillary foodservice locations (70%) than those that serve less than 150 residents (34%).  

Snack Attack
Snacks (72%) and lunch (69%) are the meal/category offered most often at ancillary foodservice locations, while only 21% have late-night offerings at their facility. 

Growth at Ancillary Foodservice Locations
Sixty-eight percent of operators expect growth in some meal/category in their ancillary foodservice locations in the next two years. Lunch and snacks—each at 19%—are the most likely meal/category to see growth, according to operators.  

Most operators do not plan to add ancillary foodservice locations in the next two years. However, operators who currently have ancillary foodservice locations are more likely to add additional locations in the next two years than those who do not currently have them (18% versus 10%, respectively). 

How long have you offered ancillary foodservice locations?

Cash King
When it comes to making purchases at ancillary locations, cash is the most common option, at 61%. Operations that serve 300 or more residents per day were significantly more likely to offer payment with flex dining dollars (42%) than those locations serving fewer than 300 residents per day (11%). 

Sourcing Locally
Produce (53%) is the product category that operators are purchasing most often from a local source, followed by dairy products (40%). For those locations that purchase locally sourced products, operators average 23% of their food purchases from these local options. 

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