Use Technology to Differentiate Dining at Your Community

Technology governs more and more aspects of senior care, from managing databases of personal information to keeping older adults safe through motion detection software.

While much of this technology has been the status quo for years, areas such as dining operations are ripe for revolutionary change. For decades, senior care providers of all types have operated their dining services through paper-based systems, which often are rife with inefficiencies.

The time is right to consider implementing cloud-based and point of sale systems to improve your dining services. These types of systems save time and money by streamlining dining operations, reducing inaccurate orders, and simplifying billing and reporting processes.

Mealtime is one of the most important times of the day for residents, and embracing trends in dining technology will help your senior living community meet their expectations while protecting the bottom line.

Expand your comfort zone

It might be easy to write off the idea of integrating new technology into your dining system by assuming the residents you serve don’t expect it. Data gathered by researchers indicates that’s not the case for all older adults.

In fact, Pew Research Center surveys find older adults aren’t shying away from technology. About 40 percent of people ages 65 and older surveyed in 2016 by Pew reported owning or using a smartphone. Another 32 percent said they have or use a tablet. And those percentages are expected to continue growing as the producers create products geared toward seniors.

Shedding the mindset that your residents are averse to technology is key to elevating services—such as dining—to a new level. After all, you don’t want their adoption of technology to outpace your own.

Adapting to new technology can be intimidating, but the benefits will overshadow the unsure feeling that accompanies learning something new. And as technology continues to shape the world of senior care, get used to trying new things, because more and more advancements will continue to shift the level of service residents and families expect from your staff.

Embolden choice

New technology opens up a world of choice to the residents you serve. Digital meal ordering tools can include pictures, text and voice descriptions, and allergy information at the swipe of a fingertip. Circling words and filling in blanks on a paper ordering ticket is no longer necessary. Residents, staff, and family members can interact more freely with a digital ordering system—transforming the act of ordering a meal into an experience rather than a transaction.

Cloud-based and point of sale systems such as eMenuCHOICE® also empower choices for senior living communities of any type. These systems automatically log information you can use to make informed decisions regarding dining.

Curious if you should switch up the menu? Digital dining solutions allow you to scroll through sales reports and identify unpopular items that could be replaced. Did this month feel busier in your senior living community’s onsite cafe compared to last month? With digitized records, you can easily run comparisons to answer questions.

The power of informed choices can help you bring the best service possible to the residents and families you serve.

Make dining the differentiator

While new technology is a great tool for improving dining in senior living environments, it isn’t enough on its own. Enhancing dining services requires shifting your mentality toward dining services.

More and more, senior living communities are casting themselves as modern, vibrant places where people are encouraged to age actively and with purpose. Dining services can be overlooked in favor of lifting up other amenities and offerings, but the meals these services provide are sources of comfort and connection for many residents. Don’t let dining get lost in the shuffle.

It’s also important to recognize that expectations of dining in senior living settings are changing. People want hospitality when they order and receive their food—including in your communities. Each meal you serve is an opportunity to wow residents and assure them they made the right choice in coming to live in your community.

Adopting new mindsets toward dining and the necessary technology to support it may mean big changes for your community, but they’re changes that could put you a step ahead of competitors and a step closer to providing the best dining services possible for your residents.

Matt Stenerson is Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder of eMenuCHOICE®, an award-winning cloud-based point-of-sale application developed exclusively for senior living communities by Lyngblomsten that breaks down the communication barriers for resident meal ordering while enabling person-centered choices, maximizing accuracy, and streamlining kitchen meal prep operations. 

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