10 Point Checklist: At the Assisted Living Dining Table
By Gregory Bator
Always have lunch or dinner when touring a prospective assisted living residence. Keep your eyes, ears, nose and taste buds in full gear. Begin your critical review with the table. Ask these ten questions:
- Is there a clean tablecloth? A tablecloth is the landscape for the food painting. Does it match the dish and the day?
- When seated, what is the view? A good view promotes calm. Looking at an attractive and interesting setting gives the time to chew and digest a meal.
- How does food arrive at the table? Restaurants never roll food out unless it is a fresh select salad or a table prepared dish. Is food brought to the table in a way that makes me feel special?
- What is the plate ware quality? A substantial clean white plate allows you to see the fresh colors of the food. Do the dishes match?
- Is the silverware clean and attractive? Silverware needs to have a good feel. When silverware touches the plate, do you hear a distinct ring or a tinny light sound? Fork tines must be straight and strong. Spoons cannot have marks of recent or past use.
- Does the table include flowers or decorations that are attractive? Artificial additions send a wrong message. A table should show the care and attention to welcome each guest with a smile.
- Is coffee served in comfortable cups? Real coffee deserves real cups with accessible handles. When full, a coffee cup should be easy to lift to desiring lips.
- Is water present and refilled? Hydration is critical to good health. Is a water glass present, filled, and refilled with clean, cool water? A water glass needs to be within sight to be within mind.
- What do you hear? Is there ambient noise? Is there music? TV distracts me from engaging in conversation; so do hallway conversations, kitchen noise, clanging carts, and vacuums. Is there pleasantly paced music that makes me tap my fingers or encourage cheerful thoughts?
- Are there smiles and greetings shared by staff and residents? Wait staff is bringing a special meal to me. Do they show it through their greetings, smiles, and body language? Are your fellow guests engaged, smiling, and enjoying their dining experience?