LTC Culture Change

In long-term care food service, dining is the road to happiness.

The Davidson's® healthcare team is pleased to offer you creative ideas for your theme dining events to enhance your residents’ experiences and generate lively socialization. Just like home, food celebrations are a cornerstone of culture change. Improve the quality of life for your residents by creating the experiences they’ll cherish and remember.

Why Culture Change?

The culture change initiative focuses on the idea that a nursing home is truly each resident’s home. Culture change builds care around residents’ needs and values, creating a homelike environment and supporting both dignity and quality of life.

A home-like environment gives freedom of choice, dignity, and control over many aspects of daily life to residents. A major piece of this is socialization, the enjoyment of social relationships, that promotes well-being. Dining is a great example, or in the words of Geoffrey Neigher, Northern Exposure, “Good food ends with good talk.”

Food is more than nutrition. It’s an integral part of our experiences. The dining experience carries social and psychological dimensions, along with cultural meaning. Whether it’s about a holiday, classic celebrations, ethnic roots, or joyful memories, food is about comfort. The comfort and pleasure of dining are key components of culture change in nursing homes today.

In another perspective, the American Dietetic Association states, “The positive psychological and social aspects of eating are important pleasures of life that persist throughout life. They have potent contributions to well-being….” (ADA Position Paper – Nutrition Across the Spectrum of Aging, 2005)

Guidance from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for skilled nursing facilities addresses culture change and the dining experiences in many ways. For example, it says:

“The facility must promote care for residents in a manner and in an environment that maintains or enhances each resident's dignity and respect in full recognition of his or her individuality.” - CMS (F241)

“The resident has the right to choose activities, schedules, and health care consistent with his or her interests, assessments, and plans of care; Interact with members of the community both inside and outside the facility; Make choices about aspects of his or her life in the facility that are significant to the resident.” - CMS (F241)

"Promote resident independence and dignity in dining by avoiding:

  • Day-to-day use of plastic cutlery and paper/plastic dishware
  • Bibs instead of napkins
  • Staff standing over residents while assisting them with eating
  • Staff interacting/conversing only with each other rather than residents" - CMS (F241)

Plan Your Dining Experience — Free Tools

The Davidson's healthcare team wants to make your life easier! These tools will help you plan your event, coach your team, and keep your culture change initiatives on track!

NOTE: Educational support in applying these tools is available. Please contact Davidson's for more information.

Culture Change Package: Ice Cream Social

Treat your clients to a favorite American treat! Today, you can make fresh, homemade ice cream with pasteurized shell eggs—an old-fashioned favorite with toppings galore, sure to trigger fond memories from days past.

Ice Cream Social Free Materials:

Ice Cream Social Menu:

  • Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream
  • Chocolate Syrup
  • Marshmallow Topping
  • Assorted Sprinkles
  • Crumbled Chocolate Cookie Topping
  • Sliced Sweet Strawberries
  • Whipped Cream
  • Maraschino Cherries
  • Rolled Wafer Cookies

Ice Cream Social Tips & Ideas:

  • Pick up colors from the toppings for multi-colored napkins and crepe paper decorations.
  • Use sturdy, fluted soda fountain “sundae” glasses for building the sundae.
  • Staff an employee to scoop ice cream for residents. Pre-portion toppings in individual soufflé cups, and let residents top their own sundaes.
  • Use colorful toppings to enhance the festive atmosphere. Pick up the same colors in your décor.
  • Have employees dress with “soda jerk” paper hats, aprons, and bow ties for a vintage soda fountain feeling.
  • Feature an ice sculpture.
  • Hire a barbershop quartet to perform classic, old-fashioned music to enhance the old-fashioned feeling.
  • Keep in mind that all items can be pre-prepped for streamlining labor.

Culture Change Package: Upside-Down-Day: Breakfast for Dinner!

What could be more comforting than the classic eggs-for-dinner concept turned upscale? Serve a hearty quiche or crepes at the center of the plate, greet guests with “Rise & Shine!” and invite everyone to wear their favorite slippers!

Free Materials:

Upside Down Day Menu

Upside Down Day Tips & Ideas

  • Feature a large, colorful fruit platter for a festive feeling. Call on your culinary expert or a culinary reference book for custom carving techniques to transform food into works of art!
  • Decorate with balloons in “fruit” colors.
  • Invite residents to wear their favorite slippers.
  • Encourage residents and families to share their favorite family breakfast memories.
  • With the help of the Activities Director, offer a decorate-your-own slippers activity using inexpensive hospital slippers and stick-on decorations from a crafts store to let each resident express his or her personality. Launch a contest, and let residents vote for the most creative slippers!
  • With the help of the Activities Director and Physical Therapist, offer a warm-up “stretching” session for residents to help them “Rise & Shine”.

Culture Change Package: Oriental Express

It’s ethnic appeal and comfort food rolled into one! Who wouldn’t enjoy classics like homemade egg drop soup and fresh egg fu yong? Creative activities and giveaway ideas complete the experience.

Oriental Express Free Materials

Oriental Express Menu

Oriental Express Tips & Ideas

  • Color code the theme! Try red, black, and gold accents.
  • Consider using chrysanthemums in floral arrangements. Chrysanthemums symbolize longevity in Chinese culture.
  • Coordinate with the Chinese New Year (Feb. 14, 2010; Feb. 3, 2011)
  • Have fun with the 12 Animals corresponding to Chinese years! 2010 is the year of the Tiger; 2011 is the year of the Hare. Give residents a chart of birth years and their animals, and help residents see which animal their birth year matches. (For background, search “Chinese New Year” at and “Chinese Animal Signs” on the Web.)
  • Give away fortune cookies with custom messages just for your residents! Or, consider using a fortune cookie bouquet, or a giant fortune cookie as part of your (edible) décor. (For suppliers, search “custom fortune cookies” on the Web.)
  • Paper fans are easy to make and can be made by residents to improve dexterity in finger joints. This can be a great way to collaborate with your Activities Director.
  • Paper lanterns can be easily constructed by residents to help residents become involved in their event. Check with your Activities Director on how to encourage a group activity.
Paper Lanterns - Directions

Take an 8 ½ x 11 inch piece of construction paper fold in half. Carefully cut slits along the folded part of the paper. Leave about 2 inches from the edge for slits. Do not cut all the way through (You can use a model to demonstrate.) Cut slits approximately 4 inches, leaving 1½ inches uncut at the edges. Unfold and tape edges together. You can add a string or paper handle and then hang. For a festive look, try using customized pre-printed papers, foil papers, and more!

LTC Culture Change Resources & Links

For more information, contact Davidson's.