SARANAC LAKE - Meal time will soon be a more special time at AMC-Mercy in Tupper Lake and AMC-Uihlein in Lake Placid.
To achieve the ultimate goal of improving the quality of life for the residents of long-term care, Adirondack Medical Center has been awarded a total of $87,570 in grant funds from the New York State Department of Health to establish Family Style Dining at its two skilled nursing and rehabilitation facilities.
The recently awarded grant is part of the state-wide Long Term Care Quality Improvement Initiative to support projects that demonstrate sustainable improvements for the benefit of nursing home residents.
Pursuit of the Quality Improvement Initiative grant was in direct response to the residents' strong desire for change in nutritional services at AMC-Mercy and AMC-Uihlein. The Directors of Nutritional Services at both facilities, along with the staff Dietitian, decided the best course of action would be to abandon tray service food delivery in favor of a family style dining atmosphere.
"I look forward to getting this program under way," said Paul Giacovelli, director of Nutritional Services at AMC-Mercy. "It is my sincere hope that it will not only improve the current dining experience for our residents, but also bring a little more happiness to their lives. A fresher, higher quality approach is our main goal."
Both Paul and Derek Tobrocke, director of Nutritional Services at AMC-Uihlein, are graduates of the Culinary Arts and Service Management program at Paul Smith's College and both are ServSafe Certified. ServSafe is a nationally recognized program, and is the most widely accepted food safety program among local, state and federal health departments.
Sabine Weber, dietitian for both AMC-Mercy and AMC-Uihlein, has worked in the health care field for 18 years and has five years of experience as a dietitian in Long Term Care facilities. Weber is working closely with Derek and Paul to establish the family style dining program. She possesses a Master of Science in Nutrition, Bachelor's of Science in Dietetics, and is a registered Dietitian.
The combined experience and dedication of Derek, Paul, and Sabine will play a vital role in achieving the goals of the new dining program, which is to maximize the residents' independence while optimizing their health and well-being.
Moving from tray service to family style dining with a liberalized and seasonal diet for most residents, will re-establish the choice and autonomy in dining that residents had access to prior to arriving in a long-term care setting. Not only will this improve quality of life for the residents, it will improve staff satisfaction by reducing stress and allowing more social interaction with residents.
Currently, both AMC-Mercy and AMC-Uihlein provide tray service meals for their residents. However, according to a survey conducted earlier this year at both facilities, nearly one-quarter of the residents expressed a strong desire for change in the meal service. Meal service has been so static at both facilities, it has been one of the more frequent issues raised in Resident Council meetings.
Additionally, there is the convenience factor. Under the current system, residents must adjust their daily activities around food service, rather than the food service being scheduled to accommodate the residents' schedule.
Once family style dining is established, both facilities will move from a set dining time to dining hours. This simple but significant change will give residents the freedom to dine when they choose. For example, a resident will be able to wake up in the morning knowing breakfast is served between certain hours, rather than waking up at a specific time in order to be ready for when their tray arrives.
To accomplish these goals, the grant funding ($42,785 for AMC-Mercy and $44,785 for AMC-Uihlein) will be applied to the purchase of steam tables, staff training, and other equipment needs. The steam tables will keep the food at the proper temperature. Smaller dining areas on the resident units will be created to offer residents the choice of dining in the larger, formal dining room or in a smaller, more intimate setting.
Not only will residents have the option of choosing their meals from a liberal menu on a daily basis, they will continue to have input on the menu's offerings and the set up for the family style dining program.