The restaurant within the home: experiences of a restaurant-style dining provision in residential homes for older people

Andrea Kenkmann, Lee Hooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
9 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: This study aims to explore the experiences of residents and staff with new restaurant‐style meal provision in four residential care homes in Norfolk, England.

Design/methodology/approach: Meal and drink provision were observed over a full day in each home and unstructured individual interviews with 16 residents and 32 staff recorded and transcribed. Content analysis was used to discover and explore main themes.

Findings: Although older care home residents enjoyed the restaurant experience, they valued stable table companions more highly than flexibility. Residents appreciated attractive surroundings, good food and their ability to make choices, but in some circumstances and for frailer residents, choice was more limited with care staff making some decisions. While the central restaurant was valued for the main meal some residents indicated they preferred smaller “family‐type” dining for other meals. Care staff sometimes found the negotiation of their waitressing and caring roles difficult. Available space and the dining‐room's location also contributed to the comparative success of the restaurant‐style provision.

Research limitations/implications: Residents valued the restaurant experience with attractive food, surroundings and the ethos of being served at lunch time, but other residents or the same residents at other meals, valued cosier stable family‐type dining more highly. Staff were also torn between service roles implied by restaurant settings and supporting residents to remain independent in the domestic model.

Practical implications: When planning new eating facilities thought needs to be given to ensuring both restaurant and family‐type food provision are available, and staff roles in these settings discussed and negotiated.

Originality/value: The research provides insights into the experiences of residents and staff of new dining facilities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-110
Number of pages13
JournalQuality in Ageing and Older Adults
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012

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