How To Develop a Dining Strategy for Senior Living

Chef with seniors

The demographic and generational shifts occurring in our senior population, along with changes brought about by healthcare reform, are driving business planning in senior living and long-term care. Increasingly, senior living executives are turning to dining as a strategic focus because of the tremendous influence that the program has on health, wellness, social interaction, marketing and sales, and community. With multiple touchpoints and complex interactions involving nearly every aspect of senior living operations, development of a dining strategy may seem daunting. But with a little preparation and the right support, you can explore your dining options without becoming overwhelmed and position your organization for the future.

Developing a Dining Strategy

Implementing a strategic approach to dining is not intuitive. It requires a carefully devised roadmap, or dining strategy. It is a complex process that often benefits from an experienced facilitator. According to Steve Servant, Senior Vice President at Unidine, “The roadmap to develop and implement a dining strategy consists of two parts. The first part is creating your dining vision, and the second part is phased execution.”

Each of these two parts is further broken down into specific steps in which you:

  • Assess where you are today
  • Analyze trends and identify needs
  • Create an action plan
  • Build a strong foundation through a transition period
  • Optimize operations and implement your vision

Throughout the process, it is important to ensure that your dining strategy remains aligned with your organization’s overall strategic plan, brand and culture. Servant outlined the Five Key Factors that are critical to the success of the process in a previous blog post.

Change Threshold

“The concept of the change threshold – a community’s tolerance for change – was eye-opening for me,” said Servant, referring to one of the Five Key Factors. “The pace of change established in your dining strategy has to be aligned with the tolerance of residents in your community for change.”

But that doesn’t mean that resistance to change should prevent senior living executives from making necessary adjustments to their business and dining strategies. “We have found that excellence trumps resistance to change,” explained Servant. “If you create excellence, and you have an inclusive process, hearts and minds will change over time.”

Dining Strategy Toolkit

Because of the many complexities involved in developing and implementing a dining strategy, Unidine developed the Dining Strategy Toolkit. The Toolkit consists of the following resources:

  • A Dining Strategy Executive Brief
  • A Dining Strategy Webinar
  • Lead With Dining eBook

After reviewing the toolkit, if you would like to develop your own dining strategy and learn more, you may request a free dining strategy session based on our proprietary Dining Strategy Roadmap Workbook and Action Plan Worksheet. After the session, you will receive a customized report with steps for success.

 

RELATED BLOG POSTS

Two Ways That Dining In Senior Living & Long-term Care Supports Occupancy Strategies

Yes, You Can Afford a Fresh Food Dining Program. Here’s Why

Exploring Dining Options in Senior Living: Five Key Factors


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