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The Insanity of Senior Living Dining

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By Steve Moran

Every Tuesday morning at 7 a.m. Pacific Senior Housing Forum does a team call. One of the most important, most valuable team members is Jack Cumming. He lives in a CCRC in Southern California. He brings wisdom, knowledge, and a perspective that makes every one of us better at what we do.

We all . . . each and every one of us loves him!

Our call is at 7:00 AM, his time, and so when he signs on he is almost always midway through his breakfast cereal, which is the entire point of telling you this story.

This is one of the sacred cows that need to go to the slaughter!

How You Eat Breakfast

I bet most days you either skip breakfast or you do what Jack does . . . eat a bowl of cereal, hot or cold, maybe have an egg or some toast a fruit. Then onto your day. You only have a big breakfast when you go out, when you are traveling, or on special occasions.

And one more thing. When you have your breakfast, most days you are still in your PJs and sans makeup.

This is Nuts!

Food Insanity

Essentially every resident who lives in your senior living community for their entire life did breakfast the same way you do it today.  

Then they move into your senior living community. They have three choices:

  1. Skip breakfast

  2. Get tray service, which every community hates because it takes staff to make this happen and residents hate because they don’t get what they want

  3. Get dressed, and head to the dining room and chow down, like they never did before

This is insanity!

A Better Way

It would be so much better -- so much more like home -- to equip each apartment with what residents need to have the same kind of breakfast they have always had, and then stock each resident room with their favorite breakfast foods. Most would be able to make their own breakfast and I am betting this would even be true for many memory care residents, because the habits have been so imprinted. A few would need some assistance.

And even for lunch, the insanity is not much different. If you didn’t have a business meeting lunch I bet you either skip lunch or get something quick, maybe even eating at your desk.

What It Would Do . . . There are 3 things:

  1. It would be more like home

  2. It would reduce costs for food and staffing

  3. It would allow residents to eat when they wanted without having to “dress up”

Socialization

Some might argue that the socialization that occurs during breakfast would be disrupted. I guess . . . but what more likely would happen is that because residents didn’t have to get going early just to have breakfast, they will be more likely to have the energy and motivation to be social later in the day.

Okay . . . take your best shot at me!

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