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Bringing the Kitchen to the Customers

Bringing the Kitchen to the Customers



THE BIG IDEA: Unlike other segments, where preventing or addressing obesity can be a prime concern, operators in the senior dining segment often worry about undereating. At many facilities, getting residents to eat enough and eat properly is a full time job, given the ravages of age, depression, loneliness and growing medical problems.

At Horizon House, a continuing care retirement center located in Seattle, this concern has been met with a program that brings a fully equipped “neighborhood kitchen” to the residential dining area, complete with a dedicated diet aide who has “command” of the servery and becomes an integral part of the “neighborhood.”

The aide can quickly learn each resident's diet and preferences and encourage eating by using this inside knowledge as well as the relationship that comes from being a part of the community. The kitchen is designed to be flexible and informal, meeting each resident's unique needs better than a traditional dining room meal schedule and menu can. The diet aide can quickly prepare a favorite dish for a resident who is not eating something, or fill the breach if a resident slept through a meal period. In addition, the aromas and sounds from the kitchen can also encourage residents who may have trouble getting up an appetitie to eat something.

In addition to meeting the needs of patients, the Neighborhood Kitchens also increase job satisfaction for staff who work them by empowering them to be creative and proactive. The Neighborhood Kitchens do not replace Horizon's traditional meal period dining, but supplement it.

Menus are designed to appeal to both the coming generatrion of residents, who are more culinarily adventurous, as well as to the older generation and their more traditional tastes.


Brian Hultz
resident services director

Lou Lorton
registered dietetic technician

Sharon Akers
executive chef

Sally Casemsous chef

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