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When you think of nursing homes, what do you usually think of? You may think of the nurses taking care of their residents and patients or administrators meeting visitors and leading resident and family councils. Or maybe you think about the activity directors planning their next fun and engaging project for the residents. There is always what you see, but there is even more behind the scenes to help support the best experience possible. What you see is not always what you get. In fact, there is so much more. For the month of March, let us think about those behind the scenes: the dietary and dining services team

This month, Mission Health will celebrate National Nutrition Month! This holiday is observed by all ages, but for today, we will honor those that are providing nutritious meals for seniors in nursing homes around the country. For adults, eating the right foods cannot only improve health, but also help improve quality of life. As one becomes an older adult, bodies change the way it processes the nutrients we need, so the dietary and dining team has extensive knowledge of what each resident should consume to help with joints, aches, and pains. With most health concerns, nutrition is usually the first one to improve and provide efficient awareness.  

Healthy eating is vital at any age, but seniors specifically face a unique set of challenges when it comes to maintaining a well-rounded diet, including perceptual changes in hearing, smell, and taste, which all influence appetite. Physiological changes like decreased kidney function, reduced metabolic rate, and fluctuations in the nervous system are additional reasons to eat the correct foods. 

Who is behind the food preparation on a daily basis? 

According to the Association of Nutrition and Foodservice Professionals “A Certified Dietary Manager, Certified Food Protection Professional (CDM®, CFPP®) has the education and work experience to competently perform the responsibilities of a dietary manager and has proven this by passing the nationally recognized CDM Credentialing Exam and fulfilling the requirements needed to maintain certified status. CDM, CFPPs work together with Registered Dietitian Nutritionists (RDNs) to provide quality nutritional care in a variety of non-commercial settings and perform a myriad of specialized tasks and roles within a foodservice operation.” 

What does it take to become a Certified Dietary Manager, Certified Food Protection?

While there are many ANFP approved programs to obtain the required education to sit for the CDM, CFPP credentialling exam, Mission Health usually enrolls their students in the University of North Dakota Dietary Manager program – which offers 5 educational pathways. The most common pathway – Pathway I – is an online program that takes anywhere from 1 year to 1 year – 8 months to complete. The course material consists of 3 Units – Foodservice Production, Sanitation, and Food Safety – Foodservice Management and Human Resources Management – Basic Nutrition and Medical Nutrition Therapy where the student must complete assignments, projects, quizzes, and comprehensive unit exams. Students must log 120 classroom hours, and 150 field experience hours as well as receive a 70% or greater on all exams. All of this while performing their daily job duties and filling positions when short staffed in the dietary and dining department. 

Mission Health Dietary Efforts

Within the core business, Mission Health currently employs 16 CDM, CFPPs; 5 dietary managers that have completed the CDM course and are eligible to sit for the credentialling exam, and 12 that are currently enrolled in the course, with plans to complete by the end of the year. In addition, there are several managers on our managed side of the business that also are credentialled or are working through the CDM course. 

Many of the managers started their credentialing journey while in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and with the continued staffing challenges facing the industry. We commend them for exemplifying the CARES values – specifically attitude and excellence in continuing their schooling efforts – even in the most difficult times. Mission Health is beyond proud of the dedication, time, and efforts. 

Now that you as a reader have a better idea of what it takes to obtain and maintain the CDM, CFPP credential – please remember to take a moment to congratulate and encourage Mission’s current CDM, CFPPs and those on their way to earning the credential!

Please help celebrate and recognize the amazing dietary and dining teams in all nursing home communities by posting photos on social media to show your appreciation with #NationalNutritionMonth!

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