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Reinventing the dining experience

More choices, greater flexibility on the menu at Highland Springs

Created date

April 24th, 2012

Oliver and Mary Louise Wood have a weekly tradition they don t like to miss. Every Sunday we go to church with our son and daughter-in-law, says Mary Louise. They usually have a place in mind to eat lunch after the service. We like to go with them, but that means we miss our meal at Highland Springs. That s not a problem anymore thanks to a new dining program that gives residents at the North Dallas Erickson Living community greater flexibility to choose the plan that works for them.

Pilot program

In the past, residents have enjoyed one meal a day in either of the community s two restaurants as a part of their monthly service package. Last year, approximately 150 residents participated in a five-month trial to test new, more flexible dining options. Participants could opt to remain on the monthly meal plan, but with the flexibility to use those meals however they want throughout the month. Or they could opt for a 20-meal plan, also with the flexibility to use those meals as they wish throughout the month. Those who selected the 20-meal plan were given a credit toward their monthly service package. The flexible dining options were developed in response to resident feedback, says Tara O Sullivan, vice president of operations for Erickson Living. We heard from residents who wanted the freedom to decide how they could use their meals. Over the course of the pilot, our resident satisfaction surveys for dining increased dramatically. As a result, the new dining options rolled out to the entire Highland Springs community January 1, 2012. People are happy they can go out to eat with family members and not feel like they are losing a meal, says O Sullivan. They can invite friends to eat at Highland Springs with them, or they can eat lunch and dinner in the same day. In a word, it gives our residents more choices.

User-friendly meal plans

For Oliver and Mary Louise, who opted for 20 meals, the new plan means they can go out to eat with their son and daughter-in-law without worrying about losing a meal already paid for. The 20-meal plan makes sense financially for us, says Mary Louise. Every little bit helps. That s a sentiment echoed by Tom and Peggy Watkins, who also chose the 20-meal plan. Before we were on the new dining plan, we had a tendency not to go out to eat because we felt like we were getting more for our money by eating here, says Peggy. But it s fun to eat out every now and then. The new plan has freed us up to do that. The couple also finds that the new plan has health benefits too. When we fix a meal in our apartment, we tend to eat a little lighter, says Peggy. Of course, for those who dine in either Chisholm s Restaurant or Cotton Belt Caf at Highland Springs, there are always plenty of menu options. Residents have a choice of several entr es daily, says Paul Glassman, director of dining services. Our menu offers a wide variety of foods, so there s something for everyone. In addition, the chefs prepare low-sodium alternatives, and there is one sugar-free option at every meal. It s all about giving our residents the choices and flexibility they want, Glassman says.