COVID-19 hasn’t made it easy for senior living communities to attract new residents. Earning the trust of seniors and their families is more challenging than ever. But to be successful, you need to overcome that hurdle and find ways to make them confident that you can keep them healthy and safe.
When it comes to establishing trust around health and safety issues, your dining services can be a powerful marketing tool. By offering nutrition services to seniors, you’re making them stronger and healthier during a pandemic in which they’re vulnerable. Here are four ways you can leverage your food services to attract new residents.
1. Leverage the connection between diet and the immune system
A healthy gut gives your body what it needs to quickly and effectively fight off infections. That’s because it contains eighty percent of the body's immune system. The diet you’re providing to your residents is a critical part of how you’re caring for them during COVID-19.
This is an opportunity to assure seniors and their families about the safety of your community. It’s not only about keeping COVID-19 out of your facility. It’s also about building up your residents’ immune systems through intentional, whole food diets that include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats — not just to fight off COVID-19 but also the common cold, the flu, or any other virus or infection.
2. Explain the benefits of having a dietitian on staff
A dietitian does a lot more than ensure you have healthy options on the menu. They meet with residents and their families to understand any nutritional needs and dietary preferences. They also assess the current health of the resident and adjust their diet accordingly.
For example, if someone is at risk of heart disease, the dietitian can implement a heart-healthy diet with lots of greens, whole grains, and healthy fats.
It takes work to effectively manage a diet. Seniors who live alone or even with a family member may struggle to execute a meal plan that meets their nutritional needs. With a dietitian on staff, you can do it for them.
This goes beyond sustaining a resident’s life. It’s about enhancing it. A healthy diet consistently managed by a professional dietitian keeps seniors healthy and well-equipped to fight off any potential infection.
3. Understand how food fits into your story
Nutrition and diet should fit into the story you’re telling in your sales and marketing strategy. Hospitality and delicious meals are important features of your dining services. But you’re offering something more that most people don’t have readily available — a personalized nutrition program designed around their specific needs.
The pandemic accentuates the importance of this. People are worried about their vulnerable loved ones, and they want them to have the best possible care. A personalized, healthy diet can bolster the broader story you tell potential residents and their loved ones about how your community can give them everything they need to thrive throughout this pandemic. That’s a compelling story to tell, and it can make you an attractive option for those exploring what’s available.
4. Partner with the right organization
Outsourcing your food services can give your community a better ability to execute an exceptional nutrition program and dining experience. To be successful, you need to make sure you choose the right company to partner with. Here are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind when selecting a vendor:
• Financial transparency. You don’t want a partner who’s going to hit you with hidden fees after you’ve already signed a contract. Make sure you understand what you’re getting and the associated costs before you sign anything.
• Collaboration. A true partnership involves working together to achieve common goals. Make sure you choose a food service provider who will understand your community and culture and incorporate that into how they serve your residents.
• Training and development. A staffing company focuses on filling positions. If you’re outsourcing your dining services, don’t singularly focus on staffing. Choose an organization that will invest the time, money, and resources into training and developing their employees.
• Good food. This seems obvious, but too many programs are built on convenience and low-cost food items. You need to ensure you’re getting fresh, quality ingredients and a menu created and executed by professional chefs.
The right partner will deliver the kind of quality and experience that will delight current residents and attract new ones.
As the pandemic rolls on, attracting new residents remains challenging but not impossible. You need to help seniors and their families understand what you can do to better their life.
Your nutrition and dining services are about much more than putting a good, healthy meal on the table. They can help boost the immune system and give residents a happier, healthier lifestyle.
Diet also plays an essential role in the story you’re telling about what you’re doing — even during COVID-19 — to provide a high quality of life. And, by choosing the right partner, you’re able to offer a menu and nutrition program that gives residents and their families confidence in your ability to keep them healthy and safe.
Learn more about HHS' dining services for senior living communities.