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Can J Diet Pract Res. 2011 Summer;72(2):83. doi: 10.3148/72.2.2011.83.

Menu planning in long-term care: toward resident-centred menus.

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Department of Health, Aging & Society, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada.


Factors that influence the menu planning process in Ontario long-term care (LTC) homes were studied, as were key informants' perspectives on how this process could be improved to promote resident-centred menus. Key informants were interviewed by telephone to obtain qualitative data through standardized open-ended questions. The key informants (n=35) were randomly selected nutrition managers of Ontario LTC homes. Selected registered dietitians from the Ontario Long-Term Care Action Group also participated (n=5). Descriptive thematic analysis was completed on data provided. Three over arching themes emerged from the data as drivers in the menu planning process: resource limitations, Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care standards, and the accommodation of diverse and evolving preferences. Challenges involving resources include insufficient food labour and raw food funding, the workload involved with altering menus, and providing food items for special diets or preferences. In terms of ministry standards, participants reported barriers to complying with rotation and portion standards. Other common obstacles within LTC homes include accommodating personal preferences, cultural preferences, and therapeutic diets. Ontario LTC homes face numerous challenges in the planning of menus for residents, regardless of a home's size, location, or profit status. Suggestions are aimed at improving the menu planning process and providing high-quality, palatable, and culturally appropriate food in these homes so that menus are resident-centred.

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