To give residents more freedom and flexibility when dining, Lifespace is exploring the adoption of a new flex spending meal plan at all 15 of its communities. Residents will gain the opportunity to have a set amount of money to use toward their meals each month, allowing them to buy food items à la carte and giving them more control over their spending. All levels of living – residential, assisted living, skilled nursing/ rehabilitation and memory care – will have access to the flex plan in some format.
“We’ve spent the past 15 months researching flex spending in great detail and designing what it will look like at Lifespace,” said Lifespace Regional Director of Operations Amy LaCroix, who is steering the initiative in close collaboration with an independent consultant and Thomas Cuisine, Lifespace’s culinary partner.
Within the next few months, Lifespace will conduct focus groups with a select number of current and prospective residents to garner their insights on the proposed plan. This will precede a trial run of the program at two Lifespace communities before officially launching it organization-wide.
“It’s important to gather input and make possible adjustments based on feedback from the people this will impact most,” said LaCroix. “We want to take our time to do this right. That’s how much we believe in the program, and we feel that residents will benefit greatly from it.”
Presently, most residents are on a fixed single-meal-per-day plan each month. Restructuring the plan coincides with the continual addition of new dining venues and meal options at Lifespace communities.
“Introducing some variation in what residents spend based on what they order accommodates for the growing diversity of our culinary offerings,” explained LaCroix. “What’s served in our cafes and bistros is different from what’s available in our formal dining venues, so it’s natural to have some differentiation in what residents spend. This initiative adapts to residents’ personal preferences and lifestyles, which we always strive to support and encourage.”
Residents who prefer to remain on their current meal plans will have the option to do so long-term. However, the flex plan will be the standard culinary option offered to new residents once it goes into effect.
“Our ultimate goal is to boost resident engagement and satisfaction,” added LaCroix, who noted her research indicated senior living communities that introduce flex spending have 60 to 70% of residents opt into the program. “Continually evolving our benefits, especially giving residents more choice, is a big part of that. People have freedom in their homes, and we want to replicate that as much as we can when they choose to move to our communities.”
A date for the official launch of the flex spending program has yet to be determined pending beta testing.
[In photo: Residents at Abbey Delray South enjoy a meal at one of the community’s dining venues.]
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