Staff Writer Tim Mullaney

As you read this, you might be fuming, and a little nervous, because the government has shut down. Or perhaps you’re eyeing the new RAI manual that takes effect today and are feeling a bit overwhelmed at the sheer number of new pages.

So it’s with great regret that I have to add yet another burden, and let you know that it looks like a whole new therapy discipline will need to be provided at long-term care facilities around the country.

It’s a real doozy, too. It will not be cheap, and it has to be done on a daily basis. It requires transportation and bedding.

It’s called haute cuisine therapy, although some believe it will be known as “gourmet gustation therapy” or “fancy palate maintenance.”

Here’s what it entails:

At an appropriate hour before dinnertime, a senior must put on nice clothes. Next, the senior should leave his or her place of residence and catch a taxi. It’s possible that a van or other facility vehicle could be substituted for the cab, but this is pending further study.

The senior should then direct the taxi (or other vehicle) to a nearby restaurant. The restaurant should be of the highest quality, on par with Café Boulud in New York City.

After arrival, the senior should order a glass of chardonnay, an appetizer and a fish entrée — always the fish. Sides should be vegetables, pureed if necessary. 

The bill should total around $100. It’s possible that Medicare will not be on the hook to pay, but this depends on the charm of the therapy patient. If the patient has the charm of Harry Rosen, the man who invented haute cuisine therapy, the meal will sometimes be paid for by a fellow diner.

This therapy can be practiced alone or in groups.

After the meal is completed, the patient should return via cab to his or her place of residence and go to bed. Sleeping should commence with the senior on his or her back.

“I read in a newspaper column a long time ago that the key to a long life is sleeping on your back, so I always did that,” said the 103-year-old Rosen, who explained his therapy regimen in yesterday’s New York Times.

There you have it, haute cuisine therapy in its basic form. No doubt our friends the regulators will soon add other elements that they say are optional or essential, and they may even dilute the therapy’s effectiveness by allowing patients to order filet mignon. But I believe that the highest quality providers will want to stick with the purest form of the therapy, as developed by Rosen.

I know it won’t be easy to introduce this therapy, but judging by the success Rosen has seen, your residents are sure to thank you. And, again, I’m sorry to have broken this dramatic news to you at a time when you have so much else … on your plate.

Tim Mullaney is the staff writer at McKnight’s. Follow him @TimMullaneyLTC.