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New Survey Results Reveal The Importance And Challenges Of Dining Services At Senior Living Communities

WASHINGTON–A recent survey of senior living executives revealed two opposing trends relating to the dining services provided at senior living communities and skilled nursing facilities across the country:

1.Executives overwhelmingly believe that dining plays a significant role in consumers’ selection of and satisfaction with senior living communities.
2.Workforce stability and expertise levels are a significant challenge for communities that manage foodservice in-house.

With 10,000 people turning 65 every day, LeadingAge’s 6,000+ members are increasingly looking to enhance the dining experience to meet their residents’ active lifestyles and varied needs as they grow older. LeadingAge conducted the survey with Silver Partner Unidine Senior Living Culinary Group to better understand the evolving role of foodservice in serving this growing marketplace.

Among those surveyed, 86% of respondents said they prominently feature dining as part of their marketing and sales strategy.

“Our members understand that they must cater to older adults with a very different set of expectations than their parents’ generation,” said LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan. “Dining is going to become more and more of a significant strategic differentiator.”

Where the survey respondents’ perspectives seemed to differ most dramatically was in areas relating to foodservice staffing. The biggest challenges reported by communities that managed dining operations in-house were:
•Workforce stability 65.2%
•Cost control 37.1%
•Integration with other departments 33.3%

Alternatively, communities that outsourced to a dining management services company reported the greatest values as:
•Access to experienced dining and foodservice management expertise 72.7%
•Working with a strategic partner with industry insight 60.6%
•Access to diet/nutrition professionals 60.6%

“These survey results demonstrate that as senior living communities prepare to meet the needs of today’s aging population, outsourcing can remove a significant workforce obstacle and, in my opinion, deliver a higher quality dining experience,” said Unidine CEO Richard B. Schenkel.