With seniors, especially seniors with existing health conditions, being the most vulnerable demographic to the coronavirus, senior living communities have been especially challenged with keeping their residents safe. That challenge has been made particularly difficult for their dining operations because a major traditional value that dining brings to such communities is the opportunity to socialize over food, and socializing is a key factor in maintaining resident psychological as well as physical health.
The Woodlands skilled nursing and rehab facility in the John Knox Village senior living community in Pompano Beach, Fla., has been a leader in using dining as a socialization tool by incorporating the Green House Project model that has residents live in individual suites clustered around a common living area, with meals prepared in the cluster’s communal kitchen by dedicated staff and eaten at communal tables, often with staff joining residents.
The coronavirus outbreak has forced Woodlands to modify this approach. Rachel Graham has been chief clinical dietitian for John Knox Village for the past eight years and oversaw the implementation of the Green House Project residential model at Woodlands in 2016. She talks about the changes made to its dining program in response to coronavirus and how Woodlands continues to offer socialization opportunities to residents while keeping them safe.