Humans value independence. And for residents in communities like yours, being able to eat independently can create a more enjoyable dining experience. When residents enjoy mealtimes, they will most likely eat more of what’s on their plates. However, for residents who have physical limitations or are in memory care, eating can be a frustrating and/or embarrassing task.
At Culinary Services Group, it’s extremely important for us to restore a sense of dignity among these residents who may have difficulty eating. We believe in a resident-first philosophy. This means we’re all about restoring a sense of joy and independence to the dining programs at the health facilities we work with. That’s why we’ve come up with three different programs (texture-modified foods, finger foods, and fortified foods) to help residents with limitations still be able to dine independently and enjoy mealtime.
1. Appeal: A Texture-Modified Foods Program
Dysphagia refers to difficulty being able to chew or swallow. In some care communities, it’s estimated that the prevalence of dysphagia is 50% to 75%. Residents with dysphagia may have a smaller appetite and consume less food due to the challenges they face when trying to eat typical table foods. Because of their difficulty chewing and/or swallowing, these residents most likely require texture-modified foods to eat safely.
When a meal looks good, it can boost a resident’s appetite and encourage them to eat more of it, but we know that sometimes it can be difficult to make puréed foods look pretty on the plate. We’ve created a program called Appeal that focuses on artfully shaping and presenting puréed foods into something more familiar and comforting. This helps residents better recognize what they’re eating and enjoy their favorite meals again.
We’ve partnered with Lyons Magnus to create a standard of food presentation that can be replicated consistently across all the communities we work with. We can provide meal options for your residents at all levels of the IDDSI (International Dysphagia Diet Standardization Initiative) spectrum of modified eating.
2. Empower: A Finger Foods Program
Reports estimate that 65 million people will have dementia by 2030. Many dementia patients face mealtime challenges, like getting food, being distracted, having trouble using utensils, refusing to sit, and refusing food. Finding ways to help residents with dementia eat independently is important for their overall health and wellness, and Culinary Services Group created the Empower program to do just that.
This program is designed to help residents with dementia eat independently by offering a variety of freshly prepared finger foods. Finger foods don’t require the use of a fork and knife and may encourage residents with dementia to eat more often. Some of our favorite finger foods to serve include stuffed roasted mini peppers, mini loaded baked potatoes, mac & cheese croquettes, and salmon cakes. Finger foods like these are simple to provide throughout your facility so residents can easily access them during the day or night.
This premium program considers an individual resident’s prescribed therapeutic diet, food preferences, and other nutritional concerns. Our Registered Dietitians work closely with your community’s Speech-Language Pathologist and healthcare team to determine if the Empower Program is an appropriate strategy for individual residents. Then, we give your facility a full spectrum of resources to help you serve a variety of finger food menu items.
3. Enhance: A Fortified Foods Program
Up to 50% of the hospitalized elderly population are malnourished, and anywhere from 23% to 60% of institutionalized older adults are malnourished. Malnourishment can usually be attributed to one of three factors (or a combo of any of these): inadequate food intake, poor food choices, and/or and illness. The goal of Culinary Services Group’s Enhance premium program is to provide residents with real food to help reduce weight loss and malnutrition while enhancing their overall well-being.
For this program, we fortify familiar foods like hot cereals, potatoes, soups, and delicious fresh smoothies. These calorie and protein-dense foods promote weight gain and support food intake. A “food first” approach like this is more cost-effective than using traditional commercial supplements. Our culinary team will work directly with your kitchen staff to ensure the recipes provided are crafted with consistency and nutritional adequacy for your residents.
Independent Eating for All Residents
By focusing on creating an environment where all of your residents can dine independently, you’ll see increased meal consumption, reduced weight loss and malnutrition, and an overall healthier population.
We know that it may be hard to do on your own, which is why we created the three premium programs above. Any or all of these premium programs can be a value-added service to our overall wellness food service program. When your community selects one of these programs, Culinary Services Group’s dietitians and chefs will prepare a customized menu that meets your facility’s unique needs. Residents will enjoy a wide variety of foods that not only fit within the program’s guidelines but also take into consideration their preferences. As with our regular menus, all foods in these programs are made using fresh, locally sourced ingredients whenever possible.
We’ll also provide members of your team with a full spectrum of resources to help turn your regular menu items into foods that fit these programs. Plus, we know that your residents’ needs may change over time. That’s why we offer continuous training to our teams to ensure that we’re always able to create an enjoyable dining experience for everyone at your facility.
By providing visually appealing presentations, you can nourish your community and improve their quality of life. To learn more about our new, premium programs, contact us here.