Changing the atmosphere in the dining room is a great first step in an overall plan to creating a more enjoyable dining experience for elders. The folks at Bridgewater Retirement Community in Bridgewater, VA found a creative way to heighten awareness of the need for change in dining practices throughout the organization.
The Bridgewater dining team put together a video to help train everyone in the organization in better dining practices. In the 15-minute video, staff and residents act out two dining scenes, a before and after. In the “before” scene, staff talk over the residents and amongst themselves, ignoring the residents. It also shows a staff member helping a resident eat not paying attention to him and a therapist coming in and interrupting the meal. There is no resident choice.
The “after” scene shows more communication between staff and residents and no conversation solely among staff. Everyone at the table, residents and staff alike, partake in conversation and resident choice is shown in dessert offerings.
The video and related training is having a positive effect in the dining room according to Cindy Morris, RN, a member of the dining team. She says staff are paying more attention to the residents and tailoring the meal and dining experience to each resident, seeming more like “waitresses.” The atmosphere is more calm and quiet as well and when families visit, staff can offer them refreshment and meals.
These positive changes are even more important because they were initiated by staff in the dining room. Once the ball gets rolling it is hard to not ask, “What else can we do to improve dining for our residents?”