Nursing home saves senior program

A spirit of cooperation between a small Montana nursing home and a struggling Meals On Wheels (MOW) program has kept the senior feeding program alive. Candy Vincent, dietary manager at 38-bed Madison Valley Manor, in Ennis, Mont., says her skilled nursing facility saved the tiny program earlier this year by bringing it into the home.

“[The MOW program was] facing two challenges,” Vincent explains. “They were losing their location and they couldn’t operate in the black. I put a plan in place to move the program to our facility to solve the location problem and have our kitchen cook lunch for them to help their financial problem.”

Vincent adds one extra cook in the kitchen on the days the senior meals are prepared. The cost of the additional employee is split 50/50 between MOW and Madison Valley, reducing the MOW’s labor cost by about 65%.“We bill them a flat monthly rate, $3,300, that is evaluated every six months to make sure the program can afford it and our facility is not losing money,” she says.

The MOW program is small, currently delivering meals to six people in town and feeding another 15 or so three days a week in a congregate setting at Madison Valley.

“We have a sun room in our building that does not get used during dining times, which gives them a nice place to eat with a view,” she explains.

Vincent says the nursing home also has benefited from the partnership. “It allowed us to make some additions to our menu that I previously didn’t have the labor to do,” she notes. “For example, we added fresh same-day baking like cakes from scratch, etc. We serve them the same food that our residents eat, which is easier than making an entirely different meal.”

Vincent suggests that the arrangement has enhanced the public’s perception of Madison Valley.

“Our facility is now more involved in the community and our residents feel like they are helping out by allowing them to come and eat in their home,” she says. “The Meals On Wheels people are getting quality meals that are dietitian approved. It also has allowed the community to see that we don’t cook ‘institution food’. We even have some [participants] come and eat with our residents on days that Meals On Wheels is closed.”

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