The Benefits of a Person-Centered Dining Experience in a Nursing Home
The transition from independent living to living in a nursing home can be stressful for the new resident. Communal dining in a person-centered environment can ease that transition. A person-centered dining experience enables the resident to have more personal autonomy at mealtime. It can appear in different forms such as:
Residents choose their items from a row of chafing dishes or are served meals at the table after the staff have plated them.
Food is provided in serving bowls at the table. Just like at home, residents can serve themselves according to their tastes and their appetites.
Staff dining with residents
Opportunities arise for friendships to form among the residents and those caring for them when staff dines with the residents.
There are many benefits to a person-centered dining experience in a nursing home including:
When entrusted to make decisions for themselves, residents feel empowered. While it’s difficult to cater to the preferences of every resident, opportunities to decide where to eat, with whom to eat, and what to eat always benefit the resident.
Continuity of Social Interactions
The social isolation experienced by new residents in a nursing home can cause feelings of abandonment and confusion. However, consistent meals with other residents and staff can provide a sense of continuity. This repetition fosters the growth of relationships, which can be both stimulating and affirming for residents.
Builds Community Experience and Identity
The dining room is often the center of group celebrations. Birthdays, holidays, and other occasions are marked as a community with cakes, special food options, and decorations. Group celebrations strengthen the sense of community and shared identity with others thereby minimizing individual social isolation.
Not only can staff promote interaction between the residents, they can also monitor residents’ eating habits and help them to eat properly. With malnutrition a concern for this population, an active dining staff is extremely beneficial.
A person-centered communal dining experience can help seniors in a residential facility to adjust to a new living situation, to obtain good nutrition, and to experience quality life.