Engagement Manager, Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging
When the project team at the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging (RIA) was considering how to share information about new resources for dietary leaders and team members, inspiration came from a close source.
The college-age daughter of an RIA team member was working as a dietary aide at a long-term care home, and mentioned to her mother how she and her colleagues typically used their short breaks to
check social media on their phones.
With this in mind, the RIA is using Instagram to deliver short, targeted educational ‘factlets’ that
encourage team members to engage and share best practices and tips – meeting learners where they
are. The Instagram account (@choice.ria) is part of an overall program supporting meaningful change in
the mealtime experience for residents living in retirement and long-term care homes.
@choice.ria shares research from the CHOICE+ Making the Most of Mealtimes program, short videos,
tips for team members and provides opportunities for followers to share their own tips and strategies
for improving the mealtime experience.
A recent post shared that normal mealtime noises (TV’s, radio background, team members calling to one
another, dishes being scraped) can make it hard for residents to enjoy their meal. When followers were
asked to share any tips that reduced noise in their dining rooms, one responded with “Our home
switched to rubber spatulas / scrapers to clear plates vs metal utensils. It made a difference!”
Another post emphasized the importance of getting to know residents and keeping favorite snack foods
on hand, and one home responded that “cheddar popcorn and Clementines are favorites in our home!”
Engaging team members through social media helps amplify reach – two-thirds of followers are from
Canada, while the rest are from the United States and outside of North America. The project team is
encouraged by this engagement, and is hoping this reach will expand so that followers of @choice.ria
will share what is happening in dining rooms in North America and beyond.
CHOICE+ focuses on creating relationship-centred practices and enhancing the dining environment, and
is based on six principles:
C – Connecting: having meaningful conversations and socializing
H – Honoring dignity: respecting decisions, choices and preferences
O – Offering Support: supporting residents based on individual needs
I – Identity: knowing and accepting residents as unique individuals
C – Creating Opportunities: supporting active mealtime participation
E – Enjoyment: creating a warm and welcoming dining environment
The program will offer an e-Learning course for dietary leaders, online community of practice and a
variety of evidence-informed resources that support dietary team members to assess current mealtime
practices in their home and provides a comprehensive work plan on how to apply those changes
effectively with their team.
The e-Learning course is receiving positive reviews from early viewers – Bryce McBain is the General
Manager, The Village of Riverside Glen in Guelph, Ontario, Canada and states:
“Many professional development courses last a day or two without any support with a plan to execute
on lasting change that makes a difference. The CHOICE+ Champion e-Learning course was built in
partnership with residents that reside in Senior Living residences and knowledgeable industry
professionals. This course gives you a road map and tools needed to deliver on real change that will
improve the quality of any senior living mealtime experience.”
CHOICE+ was co-developed as a partnership between RIA, Heather Keller RD, PhD, FDC, FCAHS and
Sarah Wu PhD.
For more information about the CHOICE+ program and other resources to support culture change, visit
www.the-ria.ca/resources/choice, contact Kristie Kimmett, Engagement Manager,
firstname.lastname@example.org, or connect with Dominque Williams, Education Manager, Schlegel-UW
Research Institute while in Denver for the Pioneering an New Culture of Aging Conference
Make sure to follow CHOICE+ on Instagram (@choice.ria)