Chef Vaughn increases resident satisfaction and equality by using REAL Food in beautifully formed purees. This method allows all residents to dine with dignity.
Meet Chef Cynthia Vaughn: she works in the kitchen of a Lifespace Continued Care Retirement Community in Texas and has one seriously gifted skill set. You see, some residents within retirement communities require a Dysphagia diet which requires food to be pureed to a specific texture for safe consumption. In short, people who need a Dysphagia Diet are mainly eating pureed foods, and in Retirement Communities, everyone eats together in a restaurant-style dining area.
It was this restaurant-style dining that got Chef Vaughn started on her mission of creating pureed sculptures for residents on Dysphagia Diets. She had heard of a friend’s father who was put on a Dysphagia diet. He was embarrassed to eat with his friends in the dining hall because his food didn’t look as appetizing as everyone else’s; after all, he was receiving pureed food scooped into dishes, while his friends had a “normal” plate of their favorite meal. So, this resident started eating alone in his room and had very little appetite, he was unhappy and started to lose weight, which caused staff and family concern. When she saw this situation, Chef Vaughn knew just what to do. She started with the real food that was going to be served that day, she pureed it to Dysphagia standards, and then started shaping the food to look like the real thing – chicken was shaped back into the form of a chicken leg, waffles were blended up then shaped into the classic square and drizzled with syrup and cinnamon. And so it went for every menu item – beef stew, donuts, veggies, you name it – anything offered on the menu was fair game. She got creative and used molds, and shaped the dishes by hand, whatever it took to make the pureed items look just as good as the dish offered to regular diets. Chef Vaughn turned her pureed food into a type of sculpture that was hot and flavorful for each resident on a Dysphagia diet.
Within time, Chef Vaughn noticed her friend’s father was eating in the dining room with his friends again, he was happier and putting on the weight he had lost. Chef Vaughn knew she was doing the right thing and has worked tirelessly to perfect her craft – oftentimes, residents can’t tell that the Dysphagia plates are any different than the plates for a regular diet, which means eating can be a social time for everyone to look forward to.
In this video, chef vaughn describes how one resident went from being on the brink of needing a feeding tube, to eating with his friends in the dining room again:
It’s obvious that Cynthia Vaughn has a huge heart, she believes in dining together, dining with dignity, and doing everything possible to satisfy residents and make them feel happy. She’s given back to the people around her and trains others in the kitchen to create beautiful Dysphagia-approved plates. The best thing about her efforts? Chef Vaughn maintains the nutritional integrity of everyone’s food because she uses REAL Food: the chicken is real, freshly cooked chicken that is blended up with spices; the veggies are just vegetables that have been pureed, seasoned, and lovingly reshaped for every meal and any resident who needs it. We think this is remarkable.
These gourmet offerings are hand-sculpted from real food, pureed, and ready for dysphagia residents to enjoy. These residents no longer feel embarrassed to eat in the main dining hall with their friends, because their entrees look more like a regular menu item:
Check the Facts! For more information on dysphagia diets, IDDSI compliance, and diet standardization, explore these resources: