The events of 2020 are a stark contrast to recent years past, marred by an ongoing global pandemic, a divisive election year and heightened tensions surrounding racial discrimination. Businesses, organizations and even entire industries have had to pivot flexing to both the changing operating environment and evolving consumer needs. The senior living industry has remained robust despite the complications of the pandemic on older Americans.
With the risk for loneliness-correlated depression, malnutrition and transmission risk on the rise, the desire for quality community-based care will remain strong for years to come. Quick acting service providers like Unidine have invested in emerging hospitality developments to disrupt the status quo. The power of human-driven hospitality is what engages residents, empowers service professionals and motivates peak performance to shift the perception of senior living from bland retirement communities of the past, to those offering dynamic, exciting programs, top-notch dining and exceptional service.
The United States Census Bureau predicts that by 2034 older adults (60+) will outnumber children for the first time in U.S. history making up almost 25% of the population. This new generation of residents will carry a new set of evolving expectations into communities, mirroring if not exceeding the amenities and comforts of home. The demand for dining punctuated by culinary artistry and exemplary service will underline the need to bring the external restaurant mindset into what was formerly considered the dietary department. This is the catalyst creating new opportunities for the next generation of hospitality professionals to step up and step forward into the future of senior living.
Ron Serluco, Area President, joined Unidine from the corporate dining sphere. His transition was prompted by COVID-19’s mass closure of corporate dining locations and reduced service levels. Like Ron hundreds of skilled and experienced food service operators shifted into the senior living industry where talent needs remain vigorous and opportunities for advancement arise quickly. Ron noted “It was a change in opportunity more so than a change in occupation”.
What most operators are surprised to learn in their transition is the wide array of hospitality services the senior living industry provides. Ron explains “Prior to getting involved in the communities we serve and in my independent research, I wasn’t aware of the broad spectrum of services we offer aging adults. These communities are often full-scale providers of everything from physician services to organized aquatic classes”. This full-scale service model can be compared to boutique hotels with competitive mindsets to deliver on best-in-class services, amenities and dining programs.
Senior living operators often detail the closeness and connectivity they experience with residents as the role allows them to engage with the communities they serve continually on a daily basis. Ron asserts “What’s unique about the senior living industry is its individualized service model with more of a bedside table approach versus corporate dining which is a quicker, broader and less personalized service. Having that specialized 1:1 approach with those you serve is incredibly rewarding”.
Within senior living the dining experience is sovereign to resident satisfaction. Food is the single differentiator in delivering best-in-class service. “Dining in senior living is all about the wow factor” said Ron. Communities make significant investments in their dining programs to offer multiple venues from fine-dining to tapas concepts, fresh high-quality ingredients, top-culinary talent and technology integration. Ron went on to explain “Food is an integral part of our resident’s days. It’s their opportunity to relax, sit back, socialize and enjoy the best of what life has to offer”.
As the Baby Boomer generation increasingly ages into retirement their expectations grow to reflect food trends, dining innovations and restaurant concepts they’ve witnessed a shift to. Calling on the next generation of hospitality professionals to enter the marketplace and prepare for this rapid expansion and service elevation. Ron explains “I truly believe that Unidine is positioned to capture that desire for service excellence”.
Unidine is enjoying marked expansion within the elder care industry’s growth fueled by our reputation as a best-in-class dining partner. We aim to disrupt the industry with our innovative approach to dining in senior living.
Interested in joining a hospitality food and dining management leader with a rapid growth trajectory, opportunity for advancement and affirmation of delivering life-enhancing service? Don’t have experience in senior living? Don’t worry, at Unidine we are always looking for the next generation of hospitality professionals to join our team and enliven our culture of service excellence. See our open roles here: www.unidine.com/join-us/
About Unidine: Unidine operates in over 400 facilities and is the leading provider of food and dining management services for discerning clients throughout the United States. Since its founding in 2001 by President and CEO Richard B. Schenkel, Unidine’s success derives from consistent execution in four key areas – and exclusive focus on food and dining management services, a commitment to seasonal, fresh-from-scratch cooking, exceptional customer service and a corporate culture enlivened by each team member’s passion for culinary and service excellence. Unidine’s network of dietitians and culinarians leverage the latest research to support cultural enrichment and wellness strategies for senior living communities, and also exceptional service for hospitals, behavioral health facilities and corporations.