Reader Letter: Dad and the Mystery Mush

Dear Cindy,


No mystery mush for me, please.

Your recent Kind Dining® Connection article, Mechanical Art Comes of Age, brought to mind a situation with my Dad that happened 4 years ago when he was in the physical rehab center.

They brought him his meal; we couldn’t identify it. We could see it was some sort of pureed protein mush in a heap. Hot dogs were on the menu. He tasted it. Sure enough, hot dog.

I said, “Dad, why are they pureeing your food?”

He said, “I don’t know; it’s been that way since I got here. That nurse I don’t like walked into my room and said, ‘I need to see your teeth.’ So, I showed her my teeth. And my food has always arrived pureed.”

My Dad could chew just fine with his teeth, although he was missing some teeth (we got him dentures not long after).

So I asked, “Well, did she ask you if you had problems chewing?”

“No,” Dad said.

“Were you eating pureed food at the hospital? Could the doctor have sent this order?” I pressed.

“No, I had regular food at the hospital,” Dad said, “She’s the only one who has ever given me pureed food.”

Needless to say, I tracked down someone who could change my Dad’s orders to regular food, but I was shocked a nurse would just look in his mouth, never ask him, and then make the decision to send pureed food.

Also, according to Dad, pureed hot dog is really disgusting.


Keep up the good work, Cindy. Our beloved elders need us to raise dining service standards in our healthcare and senior living communities.


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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