What is the Happy2Eat Project?
Food is more than nutrition; it brings comfort. For residents in long-term care (LTC) homes, food is vital to health, well-being, and quality of life.
The Happy2Eat project, which began in 2019, explores practical strategies to improve the dining experience of residents with dementia. It is a Participatory Action Research (PAR) that brings together residents, families, staff, and leaders to identify priority needs and strategize actions to promote person-centered care at mealtimes. Through weekly staff huddles in a LTC home, we co-developed practical strategies such as providing mealtime care according to individual resident needs and optimizing family partnership in care.
The pandemic, particularly during a COVID-19 outbreak in their facility, has presented frontline staff with considerable challenges in supporting residents to eat. For instance, staff felt an added responsibility to help fill social gaps from the absence of visitors by fostering close relationships with residents. They also felt anxious about health and safety during COVID-19. These challenges took an emotional toll on staff. Thus, our research aims to focus on supporting both resident and staff needs during mealtimes; this promotes a person-centered care culture for all people involved.
Our Happy2Eat team works with patient partners as co-researchers, gaining their valuable input throughout the whole study.
Team members: Lillian Hung, Mariko Sakamoto, Jim Mann, Sheila Dunn, Neil Horne, Ellen Guo, Paavan Randhawa, Sophie Yang. See our ‘About Us’ page to learn more about our lab members.