Daughter: It’s a Zombie Feeding Station

family-feedbackRecently I exchanged several e-mails with the daughter of a resident living in a “four-star rated” senior living community. What she had to say was shocking, but not surprising.

“My mother’s nursing home is a zombie feeding station. They are not person-centered, even though they offer meal choices. Aids and nurses are generally kind, but there is no bonding behavior, no personal outreach. It’s sack of potatoes care.

They have a wheelchair-line-up-of-death too, and staff passes by these isolated people without even making eye contact. For the longest time I thought staff was under orders to purposely not be friendly with the residents.

90% of the patients have family members coming nightly to feed their relatives because of the lack of personal service. Many of them hire private caregivers on top of what is supposed to be full-time care.

The Boomers are the grown children who are seeing what is going on and saying, “What the hell?” Blunt service is noticed by the families – you can check out their one-star reviews on Yelp.”

My experience working as a dietary manager in a skilled nursing home showed me this type of situation is common. Very often, residents’ expectations of service are not being met. Worse, lack of personal care and support for socialization in the dining room contributes to residents’ feelings of frustration, loneliness, boredom and depression. Clinical outcomes suffer and so do our community reputations and financial outcomes.

Every day in our dining rooms, we have the opportunity to build relationships one meal at a time. By training our dining servers to foster communication and nurture personal connections, we can help residents improve their physical and emotional well-being and increase resident satisfaction. When we meet or exceed resident service expectations, they are more likely to stay and recommend the community to others, enhancing profitability.

But every day we let opportunities slip by us. Why?


For more information about how you can transform dining in your senior care community, call Cindy Heilman, MS, DTR: 503-913-1978.

About Cindy Heilman

Cindy is the founder and owner of Kind Dining®, which she began in 2006. She’s traveled across the country and Canada working with and training senior living communities that want to create an exceptional dining experience for their residents and staff. In addition, she certifies select professionals in her Kind Dining® philosophy and provides tools, now in an eLearning format, that make learning stick and help people put insights into action. As a result of her work, clients often share their staff has a new sense of purpose, get along better and keep their focus and energy on what matters most. In fact, she wrote a book, Hospitality for Boomers on how to attract residents and keep good team members. In her free time, she enjoys walking Oregon trails and cheering on her favorite soccer teams, the Portland Thorns and Timbers.

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