Mealtime is an important part of The Green House day. We even have a name for it, “convivium”. This term describes good food, good company and good conversation. In every Green House home, there is an open kitchen where food is cooked in the home, and it is served around one large table to create a feeling of belonging. Smells of delicious food waft through the air, and the dining room table is filled with conversation as elders, staff members and visitors sit together and form an intentional community. This normalized environment creates not only a sense of well-being, but also has a positive clinical impact. Watch the below short video to hear what a dietitian from a Green House home says about her experience:
At the Table: Dining and Nutrition in The Green House Model (2 mins 33 secs) from The Green House Project on Vimeo.
According to a recent article in McKnight’s Long Term Care News, “’Undernutrition’ is the most common dietary problem related to dementia… This refers to insufficient intake of calories, protein or other nutrients. It affects up to 30% of residents in long-term care facilities…” The article goes on to talk about how improving the environment and increasing staff education can help to improve elder nutrition. Through intentional design and deep education, Green House homes have seen positive outcomes and stories that demonstrate the value of focusing on food and mealtime. Dr. Bill Thomas, founder of The Green House model, has always seen food as central to how we connect as human beings. As our physical needs increase to a skilled nursing level—this deep human factor does not change. In this short video below, Dr. Thomas shares his vision for “convivium”. By creating an environment of deep knowing where we honor an elder’s preferences and natural rhythms, issues like “undernutrition” will dissipate.