• Life Care Services

Dining Innovation and Recognition

Mar 8, 2021
Life Care Services leading the industry in dining innovation. Life Care Services ranked #1 in customer satisfaction with independent senior living communities, including #1 in dining.
A close-up of a table with elegant tableware set out and a trophy of a J.D. Power award at an awards venue.

Life Care Services leading the industry in dining innovation.

Life Care Services ranked #1 in customer satisfaction with independent senior living communities, including #1 in dining.

As innovators in senior living management, our team continually uncovers innovative food and dining trends in senior living. One challenge we closely monitor is compression dining — when 50-70% of residents dine in the main dining room within a 30- to 45-minute timeframe. It is a common bottlenecking issue for senior living management companies.

Overcrowding puts pressure on food quality and service costs, contributing to resident dissatisfaction and increasingly unnecessary staffing costs. Communities dealing with compression dining typically have 15% higher food costs from waste (as much as $120,000 to $300,000 annually) and 33% higher service costs.

While a larger dining room may ease overcrowding, it only accelerates the other problems such as poor food quality, increased costs and low resident satisfaction. Try these ways to take the pressure off during peak dining times.

Reservation systems are the foundation of a well-managed dining room

Implement a reservation system to reduce crowding and increase service quality. Reservations should be taken so that a maximum of 25 people are seated in any given 15-minute window. Seat diners evenly across sections.

Alternative venues are an attractive dining option

Adding alternative dining venues like cafés or pubs reduce crowding and give residents more options. Meal takeout programs are a vital and complementary strategy that can improve operations in the main dining room. Communities not ready to invest in a new dining area can reap benefits by creating an inviting lounge area near the main dining room.

Stagger billing cycles

To ease the pressure, stagger expiration dates for meal plans so that only a third are expiring at any given time. Residents often have extra meal credits or balances at the end of the monthly cycle. This trend is especially true in higher-end communities, where the residents dine out more.

These tactics are proven cost-effective measures to help avoid compression dining during peak hours. As with any change, success depends on clear communication with residents. Every new plan should include a detailed description of how the new system will work and a clear timeline for when the new system will be introduced.


Life Care Services, An LCS Company, ranked highest in customer satisfaction with independent senior living communities for two years in a row in the J.D. Power, 2020 U.S. Senior Living Study — achieving the highest score in all six factors: resident activities, community staff, price paid for services received, resident apartment/living unit, community building and grounds, and dining.

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