A new online ordering application deployed at Westminster Woods at Huntingdon—a senior living community in Pennsylvania operated by Presbyterian Senior Living (PSL)—benefits both residents and staff, who can more easily order food as well as view menus and make reservations, and also the community’s dining services provider, Cura Hospitality, for which it helps streamline labor and staff efficiencies.
The app has seen broad usage, with Cura Dining Director Paul Sprowls estimating that 90% of Westminster Woods independent living residents successfully use the site for placing orders on their tablets or smart phones, thanks to workshops led by the Cura team to help residents ease the transition from an order by phone system.
“Step-by-step, we took them through the process from how to create an account, log in, navigate the menu and place an order,” Sprowls notes. “We also provide a tablet in the dining room so residents can place orders there, or if they have questions about the system, we can help them to troubleshoot.”
With only the nominal implementation costs, the technology replaces a person who previously received and tracked food orders by phone, Sprowls adds. “We purchased a standard laptop and printer designated to WestWoodDining.com. A chime alerts the team when a new order has been received and allows us to track sales, record what items are popular, the number of times residents have logged on, or just viewed the menu.”
Residents can select dine in, pick up or curbside, as well as the exact day and time they want to receive their freshly prepared meals, with the service available between 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m daily. “This also helps us to streamline back of the house operations, and decreases the need for additional staff,” Sprowls notes.
Ordering ahead also benefits the staff members, who are also able to use the system, decreasing their wait times for meals while increasing the time they can spend their lunch or dinner break enjoying it.
The site features both the current week's and the following week's menu for The Garden Cafe and The Commons Dining Room venues. Residents can place online orders from the grill, the grab and go entrees, a la carte sides dishes, desserts and beverages as well as from the Daily From the Hearth specials or from Cura’s Always Available specials, which are menu items such as grilled chicken breast or vegetable lasagna that are always available. In addition, Cura offers its line of Always Available grab and go single items like a bag of potato chips or a quart of milk.
Another valuable aspect of the online program is that friends and family can log on to ensure that residents are getting the nutrition they need.
“For example, we have family members who live two states away and want to make sure that their independent living mom or dad don’t forget to place their dinner order,” Sprowls explains. “Some of them will order their family member’s meals a week ahead of time. This helps them to make a connection with mom and dad and gives them a way to feel like they are helping without physically being there.”
Meanwhile, residents who still prefer a printed menu have the option to print them out at home, which decreases the cost to print multiple sets of menus for circulating in the dining room.
The application will soon be offered to two other PSL communities for which Cura manages dining: the Long Community at Lancaster in Pennsylvania and Glen Meadows in Baltimore.
“Since WestWoods Dining was introduced, residents are sharing rave reviews,” comments Resident Dining Chair Sandy Loughlin. “Expanded dining hours better fit our busy lives; flexible (a la carte) ordering lets us have light meals when we want; and more sides, soups, and starters let us customize our meals. The lessons from staff to introduce the program were a huge help in flattening our learning curves while the outreach of caring neighbors supports residents who occasionally struggle.”