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Post substitute menu selections

September 8, 2014
by Kathleen Mears
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Sometimes the lunch menu is not to my liking and I have to ask what the substitute meal is. I have lived here for almost four years and I have not talked to dietary staff other than to say hello—until a few months ago.

One day my roommate and I were sitting in the front lobby. I did not want what they were serving for lunch and asked my roommate if she would knock on the kitchen door so I could ask about a substitute. She knocked and a cook came to the door. I asked what the alternate meal was and he replied that he was not preparing lunch and did not know. Then he shut the door, which surprised me. But then I thought maybe residents were not supposed to make requests for substitutes the dietary directly.

Since then, I have asked my aide to inquire about the backup meal for me. It just seemed easier that way. I understand the dietary staff is busy and if we interrupt them it is hard for them to get things completed. But the substitute meal is not posted anywhere. Residents have to ask to find out what it is.

Today I was in the dining room being fed my lunch. Apparently a male resident requested the substitute lunch. We were having pizza and salad, but he must not have wanted it. I did not hear him request the alternate, but I did hear the answer he got. The aide told him loudly at least three times that if he wants the alternate meal he must request it before 11 a.m.

I felt badly for him. Even if he asked for the substitute meal too late to get it, I think he should be gently reminded to order a substitute earlier if he wants to have it for lunch. If this resident does this frequently, they could ask him if he prefers the backup meal. In my opinion, dietary is a bit rigid about disclosing the substitute meal. I understand they want us to eat the main menu item they have prepared.

When I lived at my former facility, I typed menus which were posted in the hallway. I was given a new menu to type with the substitutes listed. When I asked dietary if they wanted the alternates on the menu, they said they did. As soon as my newly typed menu was posted, residents began requesting the alternate meal.

Dietary did not know how residents knew the substitutes until I reminded them I typed them on the menus. Then, I was asked to redo the menus leaving off the substitutes, so residents did not request them.

Maybe the solution to residents asking for backup meals too late to get them would be to post in the dining room the substitute along with a sign stating residents must request the alternate before 11 a.m. each day. To me, that is a gentle reminder that would work.




I appreciate your perspective - sort of a "secret shopper". I have read one of your posts before. I passed this one on to our COO to see to what degree we have already addressed this issue. He is all about "person centered care" and strives to incorporate that attitude at all levels of our organization.

Keep up the good work.

Kathleen Mears

Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...