One important factor of a nursing home that you need to consider and check in with is what your loved one eats. Basic necessities such as shelter and food should be provided by the nursing home. However, nursing home residents have additional dietary needs that the home must meet. On this page, I will explore common meal plans and dietary needs of nursing home residents so that you can make sure that these get met by the home that your loved one lives in.
Who Provides Food for Nursing Homes?
Most nursing homes get their food from a service that makes food for other companies, such as universities and hospitals. These large companies have their own chefs and servers who prepare and serve food for clients. These companies have different meal plans for different venues. For example, a college meal plan might look very different than a nursing home meal plan due to the different needs of these demographics.
Along with food preparation staff and nurses to assist with eating, a dietician should be on staff to help determine the proper meal plan for each individual resident.
What Should be Provided in a Nursing Home Cafeteria?
Many elderly people have dietary restrictions and other food related issues that should be taken into account. A nursing home should take into account:
- Nutritional needs of the elderly.
- Dietary restrictions due to lifestyle choices such as vegetarianism, religion, or health restrictions (ex. The need for a low sodium diet due to health issues).
- Difficulty cutting food, chewing, or swallowing.
- Loss of appetite.
- Interaction of medication and food.
- Eating before or after surgery.
- Exercise levels.
- Meal plan software.
Guidelines to Follow
When it comes to establishing meal plans in nursing homes, the following guidelines should be considered:
- A meal plan is like a care plan. Each nursing home resident should have an individualized care plan to fit their needs. A meal plan should be no different. Your loved one should consult with a doctor and a dietician to determine their dietary needs. These needs will almost certainly be different than other residents’ needs, but the nursing home staff members should provide unique attention to your loved one’s meal plan and make sure that it is followed through.
- Don’t be afraid to make adjustments. As time goes by, your loved one may develop certain conditions that alter what they can eat. A nurse, doctor, or dietician should consult with your loved one regularly about updating their meal plan.
- Meal plans are about more than food. The meal plan should not just be about what your loved one eats. It should be about how food is funded in the nursing home, who prepares the food and how, where the food comes from, and who helps your loved one eat. By taking a look at the big picture, you will begin to understand how different nursing homes view this issue.
If you feel that your loved one is not receiving the nutrition that they deserve in a nursing home, you can contact an attorney for assistance.