When I started serving in the senior living industry over 15 years ago, all communities included three meals in the rent. Three meals were just part of the senior’s care package, whether the level of care be independent living, assisted living, or skilled nursing home.
While that still holds true today for assisted living or nursing home care, the meals/food picture has changed in the independent living landscape. Most independent living communities are offering one main meal per day, with the choice of paying for 2 extra meals on an ala carte basis. Other independent living organizations are offering “flex dollar” arrangements, where the senior is given a fixed dollar stipend on a monthly basis. The flex dollars can be used to purchase meals, haircuts in the salon, or other amenities the community has to offer.
No matter what the arrangement happens to be, I always insist that my clients eat a meal at their chosen community before a contract is signed.
My client was a well-educated professional. He and his wife had toured continuing care retirement communities on their own before they decided to hire me. Like many of my clients, they had become confused and overwhelmed by all of the information they had accrued and they asked me to help sort things out.
The couple was leaning toward moving into one particular community, but complained to me that they had attended a special event and the food was terrible. I informed them that a better strategy was to eat the food during a regular meal. That way, they could see what everyday fare was like and have an opportunity to talk with the other residents about what they liked and disliked about the community, including the food. In the meantime, I found another community they had not considered and made arrangements for the couple to take a tour and eat a meal there.
As I had suggested, the couple went back and ate a second meal at the community they had favored. They reported that the food was worse than at the special event they had attended. They also opted to take a tour of the community I recommended, and ate a meal there. They raved about how much better the quality of the food was, and after consideration elected to move there.
Many times people laugh at the emphasis that I place on the food at senior living communities. But considering that a senior may be spending 30% of his or her time eating meals at a long-term care community, the food better be good! In addition, there are seniors who have certain dietary restrictions or he/she may be a vegetarian. I have had clients question me about how often fresh fruits and vegetables are included in the meal plans. I have collected copies of all menus from each community that I have evaluated. That way, I can give each client a preview of what to expect.
Do you need a second opinion? Let Andrea Donovan Senior Living Advisors help. Call us at (708) 415-2934 or email us. Please visit our website. Please watch my video to learn how the process works and learn what some clients have to say.
Andrea Donovan Senior Living Advisors
1497 Shire Circle
Inverness, IL 60067