Senior and assisted living dining has generally been a daily concern for any senior and assisted living center. It was previously organized to form a basic system of cooking and serving large-volume meals to meet the basic nutrition needs of the senior living centers. Therefore, senior and assisted living dining just intended to provide a fixed menu served in a large, barn-like dining hall.
Unlike the traditional options, which featured a large dining hall and fixed dining times, and set menus, the new generation wants a better and diversified senior and assisted living dining experience during their lives in these centers. Therefore, we intend to provide 5 essential things to improve senior and assisted living dining to present more attractive life standards.
America Gets Old
As stated by Forbes, baby boomers are now gradually moving to these senior living centers, retirement homes, and assisted living centers. Therefore, there is a rising need for more senior and assisted living centers while the United States’ older population expands fast. Humanity has been able to reshape and civilize the world since its emergence through intelligence, innovations, and struggle. However, people could not develop a method or system to prevent aging. All men and women repeat the same cycle as billions of previous counterparts incurred. We come into this world as babies; we grow and age.
However, medicine has provided us with new treatments, medication, and new dietary habits, while regulations regarding agriculture and production have increased the safety of food products. Hence, the average life expectancy has risen in many countries worldwide, like the United States. While it was 69.7 in 1960, a typical American is expected to live about 79.4 years in 2015, according to the US Census Bureau.
As a result, the population projections in the United States put that the number of adults aged of 65 and older will surpass the number of individuals who are aged 18 and below by 2034. Additionally, the average life expectancy after the age of 65 is also rising, and therefore, people over 65 will live longer than their counterparts in the past.
The Future of the Senior and Assisted Living Centers
This rising older population in the United States will undoubtedly have a remarkable impact on the American healthcare system and eldercare facilities. As a natural result of this rapid growth, it’s expected by Population Reference Bureau that there’ll be a rising demand for senior living facilities. However, there will still be competition among the senior living and assisted living centers to attract more people to their facilities.
First, the incoming generation that’ll be accommodated in these assisted living centers is the baby boomers, who have experienced more active lifestyles in better conditions when compared to the former Silent Generation of the World War years. Hence, the standards and expectations for assisted living centers are also changed. The members of this baby boom demand different experiences in assisted living centers. Movie theaters, tutoring centers, extensive libraries, and hobby workshops are now in demand by the new residents of these assisted living centers as better dining facilities and experience. Thus, it’s better to know the profile of this new demand to offer attractive features, facilities, and options.
Therefore, senior and assisted living dining solutions have come up with new trends that define new styles and designs in the catering of these institutions. So, we have gathered 5 basic tips to catch up with these new senior and assisted living dining trends.
1. Multiple Dining Rooms with Various Styles
The majority of the senior and assisted living centers traditionally have a large dining room in which the meals are presented with set menus. However, the incoming baby boomers have experienced of rich tastes and vast knowledge of various cuisines and food types. Therefore, it’s necessary to offer more options for senior and assisted living dining by presenting several dining halls designed in different styles with different foods for a more real-life experience.
Multiple Dining Halls
The most remarkable impact of the new innovative food and dining trends in senior and assisted living dining has taken place on the dining hall designs in the senior and assisted living centers. Many of the new senior living designs now have several dining rooms, serving different preferences.
- Full-Service: Full-service senior and assisted living dining offers an individual meal serving experience for the residents and enhances their real-life experience in these dining venues.
- Fast Casual: This senior and assisted living dining depends on the self-service of the residents at the serving counters and have their themselves.
- Pub: These senior and assisted living dining venues feature a cozy design most of the time. They provide regular pub decoration and comfort to the elders to take their time while enjoying their food and chatting with other residents.
New senior dining trends foresee an enriched menu that includes various foods ranging from fine dining meals to regular meals like pizza, sandwiches, or hot dogs. Therefore, senior and assisted dining venues and the kitchen in a living center should be furnished accordingly.
Senior and assisted living dining should be organized to facilitate meal serving and provide a similar experience to the residents in their previous lives. Hence, the layout of the senior living dining room can be organized like a real-life restaurant with booths, senior living dining chairs, and suitable restaurant tables to host them comfortably during their time in the dining venue.
Additionally, the visual attraction in the senior and assisted living dining halls can be enhanced through food display cases which will create alluring exhibition points in the dining venue as well. While refrigerated food and beverage display cases maintain the safety and taste texture of the salads, chilled treats, desserts, delis, and bakery products, the food warming equipment will enrich the look and smell of the meal serving area with hot foods.
2. A Complete Commercial Kitchen
As the assisted and senior living facility design diverts from the traditional styles towards the new trends, the senior and assisted living centers’ commercial kitchens are to address all these new requirements. Thus, to offer an exclusive and attractive senior and assisted living dining experience to increase the rate of your occupancy, you must;
Establish A Suitable Commercial Refrigeration
The senior and assisted living dining experience can be maximized with the best food products and ingredients. Hence, you should procure the best ingredients to use for your meals. However, the critical concern for senior and assisted living dining is the storage conditions of these products. Commercial refrigeration units stand out with their durability in these high-traffic areas. Their large capacity presents ample space for storage. Additionally, their powerful cooling and freezing capability ensure the maintenance of suitable temperature levels to protect the food taste and prevent bacteria growth.
In the commercial kitchens of the assisted and senior living centers, walk-in refrigerators and freezers can be preferred as the primary refrigeration unit. Furthermore, the reach-in coolers and freezers are the right choices to save space inside the preparation area.
Provide The Required Preparation Counters And Storage
Meat, poultry, fish, veggies, egg, milk, or dough are frequently used elements in any kitchen, and they are also significant for senior and assisted living dining. They need chilling or freezing storage even during the long preparation processes. Hence, it is better to equip your senior living commercial kitchen with refrigerated work tables, salad, or pizza prep tables to preserve the freshness and safety of food ingredients while preparing the orders during senior and assisted living dining.
Install The Necessary And Appropriate Cooking Equipment
The availability of a rich menu in senior and assisted living dining is becoming one of the keys to success. However, a rich menu can be achieved through a rich inventory of cooking equipment such as fryers, ovens, grills, ranges, and many other units.
Ensure The Sanitation
Sanitation is vital for even regular food servicing establishments, and it is much more crucial for senior and assisted living dining. The residents in these centers are more vulnerable to microbes and other contaminants. Therefore, all the dishes, cooking utensils, tableware, and glasses must be cleaned and sanitized in the commercial dishwashers according to the FDA Regulations, while serving equipment is to be disinfected with the appropriate cleaning chemicals.
3. Mobility and Accessibility of Food and Beverages
As stated, the Senior and assisted living dining room trends show that enhancing the quality of service and resident experience by providing more options for high-quality meals is necessary to increase occupancy in assisted and senior living centers. However, creating an efficient and alluring dining room is also related to creating the right service layout with the right commercial equipment.
In addition to the refrigerated or heated food display cases to display the available food choices for fast service, pizza warmers, soup merchandisers, or hot dog grills can be added to the senior and assisted living dining service line to maximize the resident’s satisfaction with restaurant-type equipment and options. These products are designed to provide easy access for people while presenting a safe waiting cabinet for meals.
You should pay attention to providing enough beverage stations in the dining venues to allow the residents to easily and quickly reach the available drinks. Placing an elegant open-air merchandiser in the middle of the dining hall will constitute an easily accessible place to serve beverages. In addition, providing water dispensers in the halls, corridors, and activity rooms will also be an excellent option to provide quick access to the water.
Mobility is a must-have for the best senior and assisted living dining as it provides convenience and versatility. You can start enhancing your mobility by opting for service counters and food display cases with caster wheels. This will enable you to move your food serving layout to your garden or any outdoor place in the facility to organize an outdoor event. Additionally, the commercial food carts and carriers, and rack transfer carts can be added to the kitchen inventory to facilitate food transfer anywhere in the living center.
4. ADA Compliance
Senior and assisted living dining organization also requires the consideration of the residents with wheelchairs. Therefore, the serving equipment must conform to their needs to increase these individuals’ mobility around the facility. ADA compliance certifies the suitability of kitchen and service tools and stations for these individuals, and they will be of great use in any commercial kitchen in these living centers. For instance, ADA-compliant undercounter refrigerators will increase accessibility, while ADA-compliant coffee dispensers will allow them to reach coffee all the time without any help.
5. Bars and Cafes for Real-Life Experience
Except for the variously designed and styled senior and assisted living dining venues, adding a café and a bar to the assisted living facility design will bring more real-life experiences for the residents. It will allow them to have time with friends chatting and drinking just like they did in their former routine.
Creating a stylish design, bringing booths, and installing a counter will be an excellent start to forming a bar inside the senior living interior design. You can enrich the senior and assisted living dining experience by adding a sleek commercial wine cooler and a kegerator to host your residents for their meetings with friends.
In addition, providing a suitable place to allow your residents to meet with their families or friends in a cozy café will also contribute to the resident experience. With an excellent coffee brewer, a commercial juicer, along with several healthy treats, it is possible to offer an amazing experience for your residents.
As clearly shown by the US Census Bureau stats, America grows old, and the incoming generation has different expectations from the assisted and senior living centers. Senior and assisted living dining is among the determining factors that are influential on their preferences. So, it is necessary for you to re-interpret the facility design and service features with senior living center kitchen equipment to create more satisfied residents.