As someone with a large Italian family, I learned long ago the power of the ‘family meal’. If you have a loved who is living in a facility, stay for lunch or dinner. You can learn a lot about a facility while dining with the residents. Listen to the conversations and observe the way staff interact with the residents during mealtime – it can be very telling.
Federal regulations require nursing homes to provide quality food that is appealing to its residents. One way to find out if that requirement is being met is to dine with your loved one. It gives you the opportunity to learn who you loved one eats with, whether they are provided enough assistance with their meals, and whether their food is properly prepared (i.e. cut in small pieces, puree).
If you plan on eating with your loved one, be courteous. Ask a nurse or aide in advance what the facility’s policy is. You may have to pay a nominal fee for your meal. Some facilities require advance notice so that they can make an extra plate. Even if you can’t eat with them on a particular day, you can always stay and provide company.