A little while back I talked about how our facility was switching to "Restaurant-Style Dining". Staff emotions were, and still are, mixed about it. The residents were all for it. Now that we've been doing it for several weeks, I wanted to let you know how it's going.
The residents really do like setting their own dining schedules and getting to choose what they want from more than two meals. We still have most folks rushing to the dining room when the meal service begins, but a few are now wandering in later because they know the food will be fresh and hot no matter when they get there. They also like having a choice of desserts, so on the nights when canned fruit cocktail is the "dessert of the day" they can get a fried pie or lava cake or ice cream instead. (I mean, really, fruit for dessert needs to have a little sugar and a crust. But I digress.)
In the beginning the biggest difficulty was figuring out how to deal with the residents who really didn't want to come to the dining room and the residents who needed to be fed. We are still struggling with the assisted diners, but the residents who stay in their rooms are being handled by bringing their trays two at a time throughout the meal. Ideally, the assisted diners would also be brought to the dining room two at a time, helped with their meal, and then brought back to their room. Unfortunately, what's happening is that they are all being brought in at the same time and fed by one or two aides. This seems to be related to staffing problems more than anything else.
All in all, it's going well. The residents like it and the staff is adjusting. I'm hoping that this is the first in a long line of "updates" that we'll be going through to make the nursing center more like home.