Choice made the difference at Florida Baptist – a case study

Florida Baptist Retirement Center offers complete care with 42 independent living units, a 24-room congregate living unit, a 17-bed assisted living facility and a 24-bed skilled nursing unit. When Sue Holland began her tenure as Dietary Manager, she faced many challenges. The standard menu, which included only one alternate selection, simply didn’t feel like “choice” to the residents. If the menu called for meat and potatoes, there was always some who would prefer a sandwich or perhaps soup and French fries. In addition, residents had to ask a staff member if they wanted a between meal snack. Dissatisfaction was running high.

Wanting to ensure that the people she cared for directed their own decisions when it came to food, Sue consulted with the experts at BSN Solutions authors of the manual “The Inside Scoop on Informed Choice.” Here’s how she made some simple yet significant changes to increase resident satisfaction.


Sue’s first change was to make coffee, juices and snacks available in the dining room at all times. After breakfast, she and her staff set out a plate of pastries along with a basket of muffins and fresh fruit. Before long, a handful of residents were regularly enjoying these offerings since they did not have to get up early to eat breakfast. After lunch, she changed to juices, added flavored waters, and put out homemade cookies to replace the pastries. Now, residents enjoy bringing visitors – and especially the grandkids – to the sitting area and treating them to snacks. It’s important that residents can offer hospitality to their guests because it feels much more like home and less like an “institution.”


Sue’s next change was the midday meal. She wanted to give more choices without adding staff. The budget was tight, (whose isn’t?), but the administrator offered Sue two extra man hours to help with the changes. While Sue still uses standard menus with one alternative meal, she expands them by making use of leftovers – something that everyone is used to doing. If there are vegetables left from one meal, they can be used to make vegetable soup a day or two later. The leftover chicken or egg salad from last night’s salad plate can be offered in sandwiches the next day. These small changes make it much more like home.

What’s more, residents are given a restaurant-like menu. Soups and salads are available immediately and there are always choices of two sandwiches, two entrées, potatoes or pasta, two vegetables, two desserts, and so on. Everyone is allowed to mix and match as they like, creating their own meals. Best of all, except for the two additional hours, these changes have not increased costs.

Resident Input

Once a week Sue talks with all the residents and gets their input for the following week’s menu. Residents now feel they have a say in what they eat. Costs are low and by implementing this process, complaints were reduced. Best of all, everyone is happier. With the success Sue has already achieved, the residents at Florida Baptist Retirement Center are looking forward to more delicious choices in their future.

Sue’s story is just one of many and we’re happy to share our experiences with you.

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