There are only so many traditional finger foods that can be served, with many of those finger foods looking more like something you would serve a 5 year old than an adult.
I first started chatting with Sarah Gorham and Stone Morris many months ago about their way cool approach to food for residents with dementia. They have an amazing story that is one of serendipity and opportunity and creative thinking.
The Dementia Care Food Problem
Appropriate nutrition is a huge problem for residents with dementia. They oftentimes experience a loss of appetite. Frequently they lose the ability to use eating utensils; they forget to eat . . . sometimes even when food it put in front of them. There are only so many traditional finger foods that can be served, with many of those finger foods looking more like something you would serve a five year old rather than an adult. Finally poor nutrition will hasten cognitive and physical decline, which means a reduced quality of life, high workloads for caregivers, and shorter lengths of stay for senior living communities.
Making It Better – The Grind Dining Story, in their own words
We are chefs who had long careers in the hotel/restaurant segment of the food service industry. Early 2013 we were approached with a request by our neighbor who happened to be the VP at a well-respected assisted living company. She wanted to know if we had any ideas for ‘finger-foods’ for memory-care residents who lived in their community.
Residents were losing weight, not eating, and mealtimes were a frustrating experience. She knew we were chefs, and she wanted our ideas and thoughts as to what could be done to help her residents. Before we could try and help we had to learn to speak the healthcare lingo. We did not have a clue about this industry and its challenges.
- What did memory care mean? Who were these folks? What was different? Why couldn’t they eat meals like the rest of the community?
- What did she mean by finger foods? To us, finger foods implied small savory bacon-wrapped something-or-other food items that were passed around by white-gloved waiters on silver platters. Pigs in a blanket; Cheesy-Puffy-Stuffed-Pastry.
- We did not have a clue what she wanted but we agreed to take a look to see if we could be of assistance.
What We Saw
We had a look at a typical lunch service and we were, quite frankly, horrified and saddened at what we observed.
- Fried cold nuggets of processed meat.
- Cold bits of tough meat in gravy on a plate with cold rice that they could not eat.
Making It Better
We were starting to get the problem. To say that we were disturbed would be a great understatement. I won’t go into the rest of the story now, but I will tell you that we got to work and we were determined to figure out a way that these residents could, not only eat meals again, but could do it with independence, dignity, accessibility and without caregiver assistance, without utensils, and without teeth.
There were no answers out there. We believed that there had to be a way, and since one did not exist, we created one.
We have developed a series of techniques and tools that allow senior living communities to create beautiful looking and tasting finger foods that can be eaten and digested by just about any dementia resident.
These pictures are the real deal. Grind Dining can help you create food that looks just like this without busting your budget for food or labor.
How would your residents and resident famlies react to this kind of dining in your dementia community?