Jim Lee, Director of Dining Services for the Arbor Company, takes us into the kitchen for a behind the scenes look at how he prepares Thanksgiving meals for our residents.

Video Transcript

- Hello everyone. And welcome into Senior Living Live. My name is Melissa. As always, I hope you are having a fantastic day today. In this particular webinar, we are talking all about food and community chefs. They work so hard to ensure that residents are provided dining options with proper nutritional balance of protein, carbohydrates, and calories. And of course, more than anything, they want the food to taste delicious too. It is Arbor's commitment that all residents have an opportunity to enjoy meal time. Arbor's corporate director of dining services, Jim Lee is here to take us behind the scenes of the Dining With Dignity program that is unique to the Arbor Company and its communities. And it has been a part of Arbor since 2013. Jim, it is so good to see you. Tell us a little bit more about the Dining With Dignity program and about yourself.

- Absolutely. Thank you for allowing me to be with you today. So I have been in Senior Living for about 25 years now with close to 20 of that with the Arbor Company. And I absolutely love what I do every day to be able to take care of residents and enhance their lives and the nutritional value that we bring to the table for them. Really excited to talk to you about our Dining With Dignity program that we launched back in 2013. So we've had some successful years of doing this in all of our communities and really making a big difference and a big impact with our residents. A wonderful, wonderful program where we can allow the residents to enjoy their favorite foods in a modified style that meets their needs.

- And I love it. I think it is a fantastic program, and I can't wait to show the viewers what it's really all about. And it is such an important program. And really the one dish, Jim, that I think we can both agree on that really comes to mind that melts everything perfectly together for Dining With Dignity is the Thanksgiving dinner, right? The steps you take here are the same steps you would take for many different kinds of meals too, all with the same outcome, which is a delicious meal that makes for easy handling, chewing and swallowing. And today you're going to take us in the kitchen to show us how that magic happens.

- Absolutely. Happy to do that. So Thanksgiving and the holidays are a wonderful time to bring family and friends together and to be able to celebrate and do it in a real social setting and be able to join massive amounts of foods in a safe and dignified way. Certainly. Of course. So step one is doing what we would do in any household. We take our 12-pound Turkey. I'm going to oil it up and sprinkle it with some wonderful seasonings and then throw it in the oven. I will let this cook low and slow on 350 degrees for about four hours. So I get a nice, flavorful, juicy Turkey for us to enjoy. Now, while that is in the oven, I'm gonna move on to step two and concentrate on our sides. We have some wonderful traditional sides that everybody is used to, and everybody expects on the holiday table. So I have some cornbread stuffing, I've got mashed potatoes, I've got some green beans, and I've got some honey glazed carrots. I cook them all, season them all appropriately and then cut them into smaller pieces, allowing them to go into our grinder and go through the grinding process and let that grinder do all of the hard work and really grind it down. And then I mix all of those ingredients together. Then once our turkey is very well done, after four hours of baking, it comes out nice and golden brown and juicy. I will carry that turkey just like you would at home, chop that up into smaller pieces, and let the grinder do the hard work yet again. And grind that up into very small pieces and mix all of those ingredients together, the turkey and all of the sides. The next great step is to throw it all in a puff pastry. So mix it all together, roll it all up, and coat the top with some nice melted butter and some more seasonings and cook that until it's golden brown, similar to a Stromboli style. When we take that out of the oven, we have a wonderful Thanksgiving puff pastry that you can enjoy either with or without utensils. This is a fabulous traditional Thanksgiving meal that we did on our end in a modified process to allow our residents to be able to enjoy the same items that everybody else would enjoy at the holiday table. Absolutely wonderful program.

- Yeah. And the great part about this, one, it looks so delicious and it is delicious. But you're able to take this same process and use it for many different kinds of meals too, right?

- We absolutely can. It's very exciting. So we can do Beef Wellington, we can do chicken marsala, we can do a seafood cake with some shrimp and some crab and some fish. And we grind all of these items together, season them well, add a bunch of vegetables, you get that nutritional value. But you get some great plate presentations that is very eye appealing for the residents, but it's also safe for them to be able to chew and digest. So they get the same opportunity to enjoy the same foods.

- Yeah, it is such an amazing program. And I'm really glad that today we're really able to show people what it looks like and all of its glory, because you think about it, you hear about it, but it's far different when you actually see the finished product. And it is fantastic, as you said. What is some of the feedback Jim, that you have received from residents and their families in regards to the Dining With Dignity program?

- We've gotten some wonderful feedback over the years, both from residents and from family members, as well as the staff who assist the residents during mealtime. So one of our goals was to provide a very dignified dining experience for our residents. So they can actually enjoy the experience on their own without any aid or assistance what have you. So we've gotten a lot of some great feedback that this program allows for that. So very dignified, as I said. And then the nutritional intake is much better. We've done a couple of studies to what has been as high as an additional 76% more intake and nutritional value at mealtime. So we're very, very proud of this program and it meets the needs of our residents.

- Yeah. That is a significant number. My goodness! Wow! Okay. Well, you are doing your job and you are really... You guys are just thinking outside the box. Really. So that everybody can Share in, as we said, the same types of foods at mealtime that everybody can enjoy. Literally. Everybody can enjoy it. It is just an amazing program. And you know, we've got the Thanksgiving holiday coming up and this is just a preview of what many of the residents at Arbor communities will enjoy for the holiday. Jim, a wonderful presentation today. Thank you for going into detail and showing us what really goes into this Dining With Dignity program. Thank you so much for all that you and your chefs do every single day.

- Honored to be with you today. Thank you so much.

- Yeah. And we thank you for watching Senior Living Live. If you enjoyed this video with Jim and our Dining With Dignity program, just head on over to our website, we've got a lot more for you to watch there. www.seniorlivinglive.com. We've got all kinds of videos and podcasts, all about Senior Living, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As always, thanks for watching Senior Living Live. Have a great day everybody.

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