Chefs come to the residents

The smell of pancakes cooking on a hot griddle wafted through the air as chefs from the Edmonton General Continuing Care Centre prepared breakfast for each resident on a unit.

A recent pilot project to enhance residents’ experience in continuing care saw chefs prepare meals on portable cooking stations rotating through 14 of the 17 units throughout the facility. The pilot was designed to increase dining experience engagement for residents and to create a more person-centred care environment.

Over three months, staff developed menus so residents could enjoy a more personal dining experience. The menu items included omelettes, beef tacos, chicken fajitas and lobster ravioli. Dietitians adapted menus to reflect individual residents’ dietary needs.

“It’s a treat! You get the feeling you’re in a restaurant,” says Claire Ethier, resident.

Claire Ethier is a resident on unit 9C, one of the units that participated in the pilot project.

For residents on the Ming Ai unit, a special unit for Chinese residents at the Edmonton General, menus were adapted to include traditional breakfast items such as congee and turnip cake.

“The project at first seems simple,” says Susan Belanger, Manager of Hospitality Services at the Edmonton General. “However, there is a lot of planning and preparation to make this possible. Comments from residents have made this so worthwhile.”

Claire says everyone on her unit appreciated the experience. “The interaction with the chefs was very good. It was nice to have one-on-one time with the chef while they prepared my meal.”

Residents enjoyed the enticing smells of food as it was being cooked, as well as the entertainment provided by the chefs as they worked and chatted. Residents unable to leave their rooms were able to participate, placing food orders with staff and enjoying the aroma of fresh cooking that filled the units.

“God bless those who made this possible. It’s something to look forward to,” says Claire.

The benefits of the three-month experience weren’t limited to the residents. Chef Alok Semwal found his time cooking on the unit rewarding. “I love cooking and want to give my best. As we went further it became more personal; the residents became more attached to us. It is good to get to know them personally and know who we are cooking for.”

Besides the units that participated in the pilot, kitchen staff were still preparing about 500 meals for residents in other areas. The project is currently under review, with staff exploring future options. 

Edmonton General chefs (left to right) Peter Luu, Alok Semwal and Charlson Cheung

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