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Foodbuy is a worldwide organization, operating in the US, Canada, the UK, Europe and Australia. Having an international footprint expands what we see and hear, providing us with unique perspectives. We’ve assembled a team of global research analysts to offer actionable insights for your business. This dedicated group will deliver a series of articles to inform you about current trends in our industry – in your own backyard, and around the world. This series takes a look at how user experience is evolving post-COVID. This article takes a look at how the resident experience in senior living will change. 

Customization is KING for Your Resident Experience 

Retirement communities are home to thousands who’ve made the transition to a simplified way of life, without the burden of chores and household responsibilities.  But as our aging population grows, so do their expectations for the facilities they will call home.    

Here we focus on three core components – Venue, Menu and Service – that will define and shape the senior living customer experience, and offer tips from our global teams and customers on what is here to stay as we look past Covid and into the future. 

Venue

Interacting with Residents Post-COVID

Retirement and senior living facilities need to provide an environment for residents to thrive.  The venue isn’t just where residents go to eat, it’s about providing a lifestyle for residents to lead a healthy and happy retirement.  It’s a community.  

Enhanced safety protocols and vaccine roll out should see dining rooms moving toward full capacity in the coming months.  That doesn’t mean in-room dining is a thing of the past. Residents are looking to get the same experience in-house as they would at a restaurant or resort.  Many facilities are looking to implement enhanced in-room dining options and utilizing in-room technology to make it seamless for residents, that will add to their overall experience. 

Menu 

Menus haven’t changed drastically in Senior Living and Long-term care over the last year, the delivery and plating has.  Due to residents being restricted from going out with family and dining at their favorite local spot, facilities had to get creative to offer variety.   

  • Culturally diverse offerings – homes have become melting pots of culture, and facilities need to be culturally sensitive to ensure the menu development is as diverse as its residents. 
  • Variety – many facilities work on a 28-31 day cycle, and residents want to see variety.  They have the ability to order in, so you need to ensure your menu is robust 
  • Nutrition & Quality – dietary constraints and nutritional are still so important in feeding residents.  Ensuring residents get to customize their meals to fit their diet needs without having to sacrifice quality will drive menu options. 
  • Convenience  now more then ever residents and their families want quick and easy options.  Single serve and grab and go items will remain staples for homes. 
  • Hotel/Resort offering – residents want to continue to be able to order food to their rooms, and they want it elevated.  The ability to order off their TV, coupled with late night snack options are important to many residents. 

I see senior living transforming in the year ahead, with the set-backs we have encountered comes great opportunity to revamp our food service offerings and enhance the menu options combined with a great hospitality and service in our dining rooms.

Jason Horne, Senior Director, Silver Group Purchasing Network 

Service 

Historically residents would fall ill or be unable to care for themselves and be moved from their homes into facilities.  Now, seniors have traveled the world, stayed in luxury hotels and dined at Michelin star restaurants.  They expect more out of the retirement settings they move in to.   

Because residents live year-round in facilities, they get to know staff on a personal level. Staff learn what residents like and dislike, and often ensure their experience is elevated just buy providing that personal touch.    

Looking Beyond 2021 

Resident expectations are going to be heightened and evolve over the coming months and into the years ahead.  Many people have made sacrifices over the last year, and as we start to emerge from the pandemic, they will want their living and dining experiences enhanced.  People want more, they expect more, and they deserve more.  Facilities have a great opportunity to adapt to resident needs and expand offerings to make themselves stand out.   Now more than ever optimizing purchases and strengthening supplier & distributor partnerships will be the key to success. 

This article is the final in a 4-part series on how to master the user experience in different industries. Take a look at previous articles:

Wants, Needs, and User Experience in Hospitality & Leisure

Food Service Experience: How To Meet the New Customer Demands to Thrive in A Post-COVID World

Student Experience: How to Maximize User Experience in Education Dining

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