Senior Living Providers Struggle with Dining Workforce

All signs point to a tightening labor market, and there is no question that workforce issues are becoming more pressing for senior living providers.

Already, prominent industry players have said noted tight labor markets for nursing staff, particularly RNs. Dining services is another area where workforce stability is of paramount concern, according to recently released survey findings from provider association LeadingAge and dining services firm Unidine.

Survey responses came from 139 LeadingAge members nationwide, mostly c-level and senior executives.


Among those companies that do not outsource their dining services, about 65% identified workforce stability as a challenge—the highest percentage of any category. And among those who do outsource their dining, only 15% said that workforce stability is an area of value in that partnership.

“As much as we would like to report that the contract foodservice industry has solved that issue, our survey shows that this is not the case,” Unidine stated in a report with the survey findings, released Wednesday.

Source: Dining Management in Senior Living 2016
Source: Dining Management in Senior Living 2016

Relief does not seem to be imminent, with unemployment falling and the economy growing stronger overall, the report states. Unidine does tout advantages of outsourcing in hiring and retention, such as by providing greater career advancement than may be possible for a food service worker employed directly by a senior living provider.


It appears these advantages still are not having a huge impact on workforce stability, though, the survey findings suggest. Still, there are areas where senior living providers believe they are gaining an advantage by outsourcing.

The biggest advantage is in access to experienced dining/food service management expertise, followed by access to diet/nutrition professionals, and working with a strategic partner with industry insight.

Written by Tim Mullaney

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