Resident’s Eye View: Giving Each One a Sense of Control

Written by Sarah Monthany, St. John’s Home Resident

At St. John’s, meals become a therapeutic tool as well as a loving encounter. There is a wide variety of choice of food and drink for each resident. Whenever possible, the adventure of eating is modeled by staff to resident and resident to staff. The staff sits right among the residents as they help feed the residents and feed themselves. There is a mixture of the varying degrees of physical and mental mobility. Residents are encouraged to pick out their meal plan down to the finest detail. For example, “decaf coffee in a Styrofoam cup with a lid and a straw with 4 pink sugars and 3 creamers.”

Sarah with staff member during the annual water war at St. John’s Home

The general menu for lunch and dinner includes an entree, soup, salad, vegetable, and dessert. There is an extensive list of alternative items from which to choose at each meal. There is every consideration and variety that one can think of covered in breakfast. The options are so vast that I will just refer you to the handout from the dietitians. The dietitian is usually present for any inquiries or help. Residents each choose what they want and change their minds if they want, down to the most minor condiment. There is a food forum to suggest improvements open to any residents who want to attend.

When there is a spill it is quickly and quietly cleaned up without a hesitation of disturbance. The finished food is cleared away when the resident indicates that they are done. They do not clean their plates, unless they want to.

Touch, laughter, help, attention, and eye contact make each meal feel special. There is a large portion of female staff, especially the people serving and helping feed. I believe this is due to the fact that the greatest preponderance of residents are female. Mealtime is a wonderful happening each day. I hope and pray I live here for as long as I live sitting at the tables of laughter and love watching my next door neighbor breaking bread.

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