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Meal time improves at Mercy, Uihlein

The combined experience and dedication of Derek, Paul, and Sabine will play a vital role in achieving the goals of the new dining program, which is to maximize the residents' independence while optimizing their health and well-being.

Moving from tray service to family style dining with a liberalized and seasonal diet for most residents, will re-establish the choice and autonomy in dining that residents had access to prior to arriving in a long-term care setting. Not only will this improve quality of life for the residents, it will improve staff satisfaction by reducing stress and allowing more social interaction with residents.

Currently, both AMC-Mercy and AMC-Uihlein provide tray service meals for their residents. However, according to a survey conducted earlier this year at both facilities, nearly one-quarter of the residents expressed a strong desire for change in the meal service. Meal service has been so static at both facilities, it has been one of the more frequent issues raised in Resident Council meetings.

Additionally, there is the convenience factor. Under the current system, residents must adjust their daily activities around food service, rather than the food service being scheduled to accommodate the residents' schedule.

Once family style dining is established, both facilities will move from a set dining time to dining hours. This simple but significant change will give residents the freedom to dine when they choose. For example, a resident will be able to wake up in the morning knowing breakfast is served between certain hours, rather than waking up at a specific time in order to be ready for when their tray arrives.

To accomplish these goals, the grant funding ($42,785 for AMC-Mercy and $44,785 for AMC-Uihlein) will be applied to the purchase of steam tables, staff training, and other equipment needs. The steam tables will keep the food at the proper temperature. Smaller dining areas on the resident units will be created to offer residents the choice of dining in the larger, formal dining room or in a smaller, more intimate setting.

Not only will residents have the option of choosing their meals from a liberal menu on a daily basis, they will continue to have input on the menu's offerings and the set up for the family style dining program.

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