SHN+ Report: Senior Living Dining 2020 — An Industry Snapshot

In this report, you will learn:

  • How senior living operators are communicating with residents about dining
  • How they are and applying mainstream food trends in their operations
  • The most used strategies for driving revenue through dining programs
  • How resident interests and preferences are coming into play for operators when designing their dining programs and facilities

The senior living dining experience has changed in recent years. From cafeteria to restaurant-style dining, the senior housing and care industry has evolved significantly. Today’s experiences include display kitchens, grab-and-go options, wine bars, brick pizza ovens, probiotics and alternative proteins — to name a few elements — all in the interest of enhancing resident satisfaction and driving senior living hospitality forward.

Senior Housing News maintains a pulse on the senior living dining experience, through our daily news coverage, annual DISHED senior living dining event, and ongoing conversations with culinary and foodservice professionals.

In early 2020, SHN surveyed more than 50 senior living operations professionals and 17 architects and designers about their thoughts about the senior living dining landscape in 2020.

Senior housing operators continue to be interested in offering multiple dining venues and experiences to residents, and many are pursuing revenue opportunities through their dining programs.

Key Takeaways

Among architects and design professionals, respondents reported these two trends, along with the addition of wine bars, were the most common dining elements in new construction projects.

2. Most communities have multiple dining venues

More than three quarters of operator respondents report their communities have multiple dining venues, with more than a third reporting they have three or more venues.

3. Quality and flavor are top priorities for residents

Despite offering many of today’s top food trends, operators report that quality and flavor of food are the most important aspects of a dining program as reported by both prospective and existing residents.

4. Operators are pursuing revenue through dining programs

The majority of operator respondents say they are pursuing revenue opportunities through their dining programs, while 39% of senior consumers say they would pay a monthly surcharge for premium food options.

Open concepts are trending in design

Among 17 design and architecture professionals, survey respondents report an increase in open concept formats, additions of wine bars and addition of quick serve venues in new construction projects.

More flexibility is desired in renovations

In renovation projects, 17 architect and design professionals report the top trend they are seeing is more flexibility in dining rooms.

More venues added

Among 17 architect and design professionals, respondents report a greater number of dining venues is the greatest design change with respect to senior living dining over the last five years.

Most operators have multiple dining venues

Among 54 operations professionals who responded to the survey, the vast majority say their communities have multiple dining venues, with roughly one third having three or more venues.

How many dining venues does your average community have?

Senior living offers mainstream food trends

Among operator respondents, many are offering the top 2020 food trends identified by Whole Foods: Pacific Rim flavors, shelf-stable probiotics, new integrations of fats, hemp and faux meat options.

Do you offer … ? (check all that apply)

Providers still use paper to promote dining

While digital signage is gaining popularity, the most common way operators are promoting their dining experience to residents is with printed paper.

How do you promote your dining experience to your existing residents?

Operators are pursuing revenue opportunities from dining

More than half of respondents say they are actively pursuing additional revenue sources from dining. They are most commonly doing this through guest and staff meals, while residents exceeding their meal allotments and catering offerings are among other popular revenue sources through dining.

How does your company currently generate revenue from your dining program?

Retention of foodservice staff is improving slightly

More than 35% of respondents report foodservice staff retention is improving, while a similar proportion report it has stayed the same over the last year. Roughly 30% report it has declined.

Fill in the blank: Retention of foodservice staff in my organization has _________ in the last 12 months:

This original report was created by Senior Housing News. To view more reports on senior housing topics and trends, visit the SHN Reports homepage.