Each morning, nursing home residents gather in the hallway leading to the dining room, eager for their morning meal. Breakfast in a long-term care center is a busy and active time as residents fuel up for the day, and catch up with their peers over coffee.
Breakfast is a meal that often comes with specific requests. Our facility provides eggs cooked to each individual’s preference — anything from scrambled with cheese to sunny-side up, and many other possible options. We use pasteurized shell eggs to protect our residents from foodborne illness. Breakfast is the one hot meal that residents consistently enjoy, and breakfast for dinner is a favorite among the individuals we serve.
As a certified dietary manager and certified food protection professional in a nursing home, my day starts with welcoming new residents and obtaining their personal food preferences. Our goal is to make each person’s stay feel like home by providing comfort foods and honoring their preferences. We ask questions like, “What do you like to have for breakfast?” Their reply may be: “I usually have a slice of toast and two eggs over easy with a cup of yogurt.” We tell them we’ll begin serving their preferred breakfast the very next morning.
Breakfast offerings are varied. The two main ingredients are usually toast and coffee, followed by some style of egg as well as fruit or yogurt. We provide a multitude of selections to please every palate. In addition to the breakfast foods mentioned, we offer cold cereals, hot cooked cereals like oatmeal, sweet rolls, juices and breakfast meats. I often hear residents say they eat breakfast to start their day off right. But ironically, the breakfast many individuals eat is not balanced. A resident recently consumed two scrambled eggs, a slice of toast and two sodas. But I don’t judge. We offer plenty of healthy options, but since we honor person-centered dining, residents have the power to choose their individual preferences. The dining experience is a vital and beloved part of a resident’s day, and proper nutrition leads to healing and good therapy participation.
Breakfast is important for nursing home residents. But the question is what constitutes a proper breakfast? Try telling a lady that has lived for 102 years and enjoys a cup of extra hot coffee and a slice of toast daily that her breakfast is not adequate to meet her nutrition needs. This is the fine balancing act we face every day with nursing home residents, and a challenge we will continue to deal with in bringing dignity and happiness to their lives.
Omar Humes, CDM, Food Service Director, PruittHealth, [email protected]