Improving the Residents’ Experience in Long-Term Care

As a dietitian in long-term care, you can improve your residents’ experience. It’s not complicated. With the help of enriching activities and appealing meals, you can have more influence than you realize.  

If you’re ready to get more involved at your long-term care facility, present some ideas to your activities director and ask them to put you on the event calendar. Here are some tried and true suggestions that may be a hit with your residents. 

Share Tips for Healthy Eating 

Rather than presenting canned diet education on therapeutic diets that may not resonate with everyone, why not start a discussion on general healthy eating? Present information that is seasonally appropriate and relevant.  

For example, spend the summer talking about the benefits of growing a garden and eating fresh fruits and vegetables. Help the residents plant some tomatoes in pots on the patio or herbs in cups for the windowsill. The residents will love the idea of a ‘plant and learn’ workshop while they increase their knowledge about the benefits of fresh, healthy foods.  

Lead a Support Group 

This could be a group for residents living with diabetes or Parkinson’s disease and their families. Identify a need in your facility and encourage residents to gather in a group setting for conversation, education, and a sense of community.  

Plan Games for a Group  

Everyone loves a little friendly competition once in a while! Get creative and host a game day that involves food. It could be as simple as a food-themed BINGO card or Pictionary. Form teams and keep score for extra excitement. 

Host a Cooking Series  

Work with your Food Service Manager to host a multi-week “vegetarian cooking series” or “international food festival.” Each week, demonstrate a different quick and easy themed recipe and let the residents choose their favorite food item to be offered on an upcoming menu.  

Write a Nutrition Article for the Facility’s Newsletter  

Each month choose a nutrition-related topic and draft a short article that might interest residents and their families. It is a clever way to debunk some nutrition myths or highlight some information on the latest hot nutrition topic. 

Whatever you choose, be creative and have some fun. Use the time to engage the residents and break up the monotony of your day. No doubt a dietitian’s job is important, but don’t take it too seriously. Try something new today and let us know how it went. We love highlighting Dietitian Wins! 

Sarah Hammaker, RDN

Sarah Hammaker, RDN is a clinical dietitian working primarily in long-term care and acute rehabilitation hospital settings in Pennsylvania. Outside of work, Sarah enjoys spending time with her husband and their four children. She loves running and being outdoors. Her hobbies include reading, planting and shopping.

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