As we have been carefully reopening our senior communities over the past few months, Atria’s Culinary and Engage Life events teams have delivered thoughtful, hospitality-driven experiences for residents, adapted to the times in which we’re all living.
Safety first, then fun
Chad Welch, Atria’s Executive Chef of Culinary Operations, used to recommend ways for community culinary staff to display a buffet, cheese board or fruit platter for residents to enjoy together as a group. These days, however, he provides recommendations for rethinking some of the basic concepts of resident dining options.
“We’ve been really creative with how we’re delivering food,” he said. One of the ways Atria has offered a safe and enjoyable experience is by visiting residents door to door with themed, decorated culinary carts with individual portions for safety. A farmer’s market cart, complete with terracotta planters filled with hummus, might arrive at their doorstep one day. Another day, they might be treated to a summer barbecue-themed spread of smoked ribs and slaw. Staff have even delivered pizza in boxes personalized with good-natured jokes like “You’re so cheesy!” and other special hellos.
During these cautionary times, staff also take residents’ temperatures, wheel hydration carts door to door, and bring residents mobile happy hours like Margarita Monday or Wimbledon Wednesday with cocktails and strawberries.
“We have carts for just about everything – one of my favorites is a ‘Positivi-Tea’ cart that shares tea and uplifting thoughts on meditation and wellness with our residents,” said Shannon Wilson, Atria’s Manager of Engage Life Operations. “They’re a way to make mealtime more of an event, a surprise to look forward to.”
People belong together
One of Atria’s core values is that people belong together – and food can help cultivate that sense of belonging.
The challenge these days is to help residents feel connected at a time when they must socially distance and can’t go out and enjoy their favorite local places. That’s why we vary community menus regionally and seasonally. We may serve stuffed quahogs in Falmouth, Massachusetts, at the same time we’re serving Crab Louie in San Mateo, California, or green chili in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
“Having your meals delivered to you, while a bit of a luxury, can be monotonous at times, so this is a way to offer programs to residents throughout the day that makes the delivery a community-wide event,” Wilson said. “We value our residents so much and we want them to stay engaged and connected through their culinary experiences.”