When it comes to ensuring that adults in senior living communities are happy and healthy, food and dining services are an important factor. Research has shown that healthy foods and the act of sharing meals with others leads to better physical and mental health, as well as overall happiness. To better understand how important food and dining services are to current and prospective residents of senior living communities, Nutrislice surveyed 1,600 retired U.S. adults aged 65 and older who are either currently residing in a senior living community or plan to move to one within two years. Among other topics, we sought to understand how important the on-site food services are to residents, what they want from their on-site dining options, and how senior living communities might be able to leverage their dining programs as a competitive differentiator.
It may seem intuitive that quality of food and dining services are an important consideration for people of all ages, no matter where they get their meals, but little research currently exists to verify that assumption. Our survey showed that, indeed, the on-site food and dining services are a significant consideration for seniors as they make plans for where to live in the coming years. Of the prospective residents in our survey who said they are planning to move to a senior living community within the next two years, 87% said the on-site food and dining experience is not only “somewhat” or “very” important to them, but also that they are actively taking it into account as they decide where to live.
Additionally, of the respondents who currently live in a senior living community (whether a retirement community, assisted living community or skilled nursing facility), 42% said the on-site food and dining experience was “somewhat” or “very” important to them when they were first deciding whether to move to the community. Interestingly, dining programs seem to become slightly more important after they move to their chosen senior living community, with 49% deeming it “somewhat” or “very” important to them now and saying that they eat at on-site venues regularly.
It’s not simply the quality of foodservice programs that is important to seniors – the ability to easily access nutritional information about their food options is also a consideration. Eighty-four percent of respondents said access to specific dietary, nutritional and ingredient information is “somewhat” or “very” important to them when ordering their meals.
Consumer polls have shown that 60% of Americans are managing at least one dietary restriction, and senior living residents, their guests and staff alike need ingredient and nutritional information at their fingertips when ordering so they can make informed choices. Likewise, dieticians and nutritionists that may be working with residents in assisted living and skilled nursing homes need access to nutritional information as they work with residents to build the right meal plan to meet their dietary needs. The importance of easy access to nutritional information will likely continue to increase as the Baby Boomer generation ages and begins to move into senior living communities in greater numbers. Research has shown that 72% of Baby Boomers say they read the nutritional labels on food and beverage products to know that the product is healthy.
With foodservice and dining programs being such an important consideration when people are deciding where to live in their later years, foodservice operators should look at how they can leverage their programs to attract new residents and create a competitive advantage. A successful example can be seen at The Clare continuing care retirement community (CCRC) in Chicago which, according to Senior Housing News, was struggling with a mere 40% occupancy rate before overhauling its foodservice program to provide more upscale dining venues that make it stand out among competitors. The new dining program has proven to be a successful return on investment by helping build the referral pipeline for prospective residents.
Nutrislice Marketing Services can help foodservice operators in senior living communities create a competitive advantage by marketing the quality of their dining programs and highlighting their food in ways that both attract new residents and entice existing residents to eat at the on-site dining venues more often. Our experts help foodservice operators cultivate superior customer experiences through a myriad of unique professional services, including branded promotional kits and custom sales, marketing and operational materials to help you promote your programs. Digital menus and digital signage enable foodservice operators to create dazzling displays that tantalize taste buds and provide easy access to important nutritional information with a simple tap or click. And, digital ordering solutions make it easy to provide the type of modern and convenient online ordering options that the Baby Boomer generation and even older seniors have grown accustomed to during the COVID-19 pandemic. Best of all, the Nutrislice platform that forms the foundation of all our technology solutions enables foodservice operators to streamline operations, easily integrate with existing technologies, scale as needed and create new operational efficiencies – all of which help reduce costs and increase profits.
Food is fundamental to life and delivering a superior foodservice program or dining experience can make all the difference when it comes ensuring that residents are not only happy, but thriving in their senior living communities.
To learn more about the many ways we can help differentiate your dining program, we invite you to complete the form below to schedule a Discovery meeting with our team. We’ll help you navigate this journey to not only meet but exceed the expectations of current and prospective residents.