Cura’s Connections Memory Support Dining Creates Meals with Dignity

Updated on June 18, 2024

Residents with Alzheimer’s Disease and related Dementias can now dine gracefully thanks to Cura Hospitality!  In observation of June’s Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month, Cura’s signature Connections Memory Support Dining Program provides memory-care team members with progressive tools that engage residents, chef-inspired culinary innovations and in person training so that memory-impaired residents can enjoy a meal with dignity!

Cura currently serves and has tremendous knowledge and experience managing dining for memory care facilities across the United States.  As Alzheimer’s and Dementia are so common for seniors, (as of 2023, 6.7 million people aged 65 and older are living with Alzheimer’s) Cura’s culinary and clinical teams are dedicated and sincere in finding innovative ways to serve these residents with personalized care, dignity and compassion. Through Cura’s research, they are able to quickly introduce new initiatives to enhance programs that support residents with these challenging disorders.

Conversation Starters is one of the most popular tools to help staff caring for memory-impaired residents generate a meaningful conversation. These unique 5×8 cards feature full-color photos in a retro design that represent, for example, holiday gatherings, favorite vacations, or careers, along with a series of questions about the photo that a staff member can ask a resident to help them make “connections” to something similar in their past.

“When we use the Connections Conversation Starters during mealtime it really gets the memory care residents engaged and talking about all sorts of topics,” says Menno Haven Clinical Supervisor of Memory Care Homes Joseph Setaro II, LPN, CDP.  Shawn Keilholtz, a Menno Haven memory home activities team member in Chambersburg, PA, is pictured here engaging a resident with the popular tool!

“We also use the yellow plates in the Memory care homes which help the residents see where their food is on the table,” Setaro adds.

Specialized culinary programs are also offered through Connections – using real food vs. supplements!  Handcrafted Delights, an enriched snack program that revolutionizes traditional nutrient-supplementing snacks with visually appealing and tasty treats, are handcrafted by Cura’s chefs – keeping snack time nourishing without the use of chemically enhanced supplements.

 At Pickering Manor, a continuing care retirement community in the heart of Newtown, PA, memory care team members attended a mini expo (hosted by Cura’s onsite leadership) where they sampled Handcrafted Delights such as peanut butter chocolate mousse cups, cranberry ricotta oat bars, vanilla cupcakes with yogurt icing and delicious pina colada, mango and strawberry banana smoothies pictured here!   The idea was for team members to experience Handcrafted Delights so they could share how delicious they are!  I actually look forward to giving residents the new drink now—and they really enjoy the snacks. They smell, look and taste good for the residents. All are well received—not much refusal here,” says Pickering Manor RN Barbara Kasper.

Cura’s Puree Creations also meet the challenge of adequately nourishing patients who experience dysphagia – with real foods that are freshly prepared and attractively structured with the touch of a master chef.  As swallowing difficulties are common symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease, Cura’s culinary teams are finding that, with a little extra effort, purées can not only mimic the taste of traditional fare, but also the look and beauty of the food served!

Residents should never be restricted from the look and taste of real food,” says Corporate Executive Chef Lance Franklin, who recently conducted training for chefs and cooks at St. Catherine’s Village in Madison, MS, where they learned the latest techniques in creating artful purees.  Cura’s goal is to serve the puréed version of whatever is on the regular resident menu, be it beef, fish, or pie (Pictured Here).  Puree Creations has resulted in a tremendous difference in the attitudes and appetites of residents on purées.  In fact, many residents have experienced a significant improvement of their nutritional status, which is rarely heard of.

Often, when seniors switch to purées, their nutrition takes a turn for the worse,” Franklin says. “But we’ve worked really hard to ensure that taste and presentation are top notch—especially for those dining with friends who don’t follow a restricted diet.”

As AD progresses, the resident’s vision and depth perception declines, and food intake is significantly impacted by our choices in tabletop selections. Cura’s Connections guides dining and nursing staff in well-planned tabletop selections to make a positive impact on memory-impaired residents.

Now is the time to create a dignified dining experience for memory-impaired residents. 

ABOUT CURA

Cura has been curating dining service programs specific to each client’s needs.  Specializing in life communities and acute care, Cura takes the worry of guest safety and satisfaction, employee development, operational and fiscal challenges off of our clients’ plates.  As our client’s needs evolve, so do we.  For more information about Cura, please visit www.curahospitality.com