Qualifications of Dietary Managers in Senior Living Communities

Kathryn Henry, Chelsea Schenck, Nina Collins*, Bradley University

Full manuscript: http://www.kon.org/urc/v9/henry.html

Abstract According to a review of literature, one of determinants of satisfaction for seniors in assisted or other long-term care living arrangements is the quality of food and food service (Howells, 2007; Amarantos, Martinez, & Dwyer, 2001). Part of the determining factor of satisfaction is the management of any food service operation, including preparation of food. This study examined the minimum qualifications of dietary managers in Illinois compared with telephone interview responses from senior living telephone interviews. Results indicated that a majority of participants were unaware of the qualifications for dietary managers in Illinois and very few participants in the survey required qualifications beyond the minimum state requirements for dietary managers.

Howells (2007) suggested that “long term” is a generic term and is used in multiple ways to include a number of living arrangements for seniors, including assisted living, independent living, continuing care retirement, and even aging at home assisted by home health care arrangements. Specifically, assisted living facilities are alternatives for seniors who need more assistance but do not need strict medical and nursing care. Food and nutrition are important aspects of the “good life.” Palatable meals may also add security, meaning, and structure to an elderly person’s day (Amarantos, Martinez, & Dwyer, 2001). Food quality has been identified as a very important aspect for a positive mealtime experience, and research has shown that quality food and service delivery greatly impacts health, happiness, and quality of life in long-term care residents (Howells, 2007). Howells further stated that “food and foodservice experiences may have a greater impact on long-term care residents compared with hospital patients because their stay is longer and mealtimes become part of their daily lives.” Quality of life refers to “overall life satisfaction” (Amarantos, Martinez, & Dwyer, 2001). Residents of long-term care facilities have few food choices and mealtime alternatives. Dietary managers play an important role in food choices and food delivery. A dietary manager’s role in long-term care is to manage dietary operations by administrating menus, purchasing, and food preparation (Dietary Managers Association, 2009). Thus, dietary managers are an important determining factor in food quality served to residents.

Read the full manuscript: http://www.kon.org/urc/v9/henry.html