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Sherrie Dornberger, RNC, CDONA, FACDONA, executive director, NADONA
Sherrie Dornberger, RNC, CDONA, FACDONA, executive director, NADONA
We want to give the residents of our 30-bed unit something special for the holidays. What can you recommend?

Since residents love home-cooked meals, why not prepare a holiday dinner for them? Have the staff ask their particular residents what they would like to eat if it were homemade. Post a list on a bulletin board and ask the staff to sign up to cook for the residents. 

The activities department could help with heating the foods, and setting up tables to place the food on in the dining area. Allow residents who are able to choose what foods they want. 

Forget the diabetic diets for the day, unless someone really can't afford to cheat for one meal. Ask the medical director ahead of time to notify the doctors about the special dinner, to see whether everyone (except those on liquid diets, strict diabetic diets, or others with medical restrictions) can participate.

Trust me when I say that residents who have not eaten in weeks will choose everything available and lick their plates clean. Our activities department also worked with the dietitian to ensure that all of the food groups were covered on the sign-up sheet. If something major was missing, other staff members who did not have a chance to sign up were asked to make something. Don't forget that the head of your dietary department usually is a great cook, so ask everyone. (That Includes the DON and the administrator's significant other!)

When we did it, there were always tons of food left over. Staff members also were encouraged to sit down with the residents to enjoy the meal! “Goodie bags” were made for some residents who requested certain foods, so they could enjoy it as a snack or for part of another meal. Have the staff members who might not like to cook bring in baggies, plastic wrap and paper plates to make goodie bags. Eggnog is another winner for the non-cooks.
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