Stylish Meals for Better Health
|Fine Dining Program
Soothing jazz plays in a dining room overlooking the bright lights of the city’s skyline and is followed by the lively tones of a steel drum band. Each table is set with elegant table cloths, plates, glassware and cutlery. Guests are chatty. They are greeted by a smiling wait staff and the aroma of Cajun style chicken and rice to celebrate “New Orleans Day” during Mardi Gras. No, this isn’t a posh five-star restaurant. It’s simply another fine dining evening at any of HHC’s nursing homes.
Whether at Coler-Goldwater, Dr. Susan Smith McKinney, Gouverneur or Sea View, many long term care residents are reaping the benefits of the dining program, part of HHC’s efforts to embrace the national Culture Change movement to redefine nursing home programs to create a more resident-centered environment.
“I prefer when the meal is served this way because it feels more like home,” said McKinney resident Sharon Dwyer.
Fine dining is reflective of a change in culture from the institutional tray and menu service in a cafeteria setting to the menu choice options in either a home-like or restaurant-style settings that meet residents’ dining preferences. For nearly 10 years, HHC facilities have enticed those residents who are independently able to break bread with fellow residents by offering them the “Home Dining” or “Fine Dining” program that gives them an array of meal choices and specialty themed menus for “Cinco de Mayo” or “Baseball Day.” The meals are not distributed to residents on the usual standardized meal trays but are served in true restaurant style with food service staff waiting on each table.
Beyond creating a home and community environment, the fine dining approach is having a real impact on the nutritional needs of residents. The Food and Nutrition staff at Sea View reports that their “Home Style” dining program has had a positive effect on those residents who were experiencing weight loss -- 65 percent of the residents who participated actually gained weight.
Program staff also note that the experience encourages the residents to socialize more than usual, which help reduce the common feeling of isolation many residents experience.
"The program is a hit. And the proof is in the pudding. Our residents eat twice as much on special theme days when compared to regular tray-service days," said Anthony Pollio, McKinney Food Service Director. "The program expands their choices while staying within their nutritional dietary guidelines."