Maria Fifield and her family fork out about $2,700 a month for her 82-year-old grandfather to be properly cared for at Saint Luke’s Home in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. That money, they say, should include balanced nutrition, and they don’t believe the food he’s getting is anywhere near what it should be.
The elderly man suffers from dementia and has had two strokes. He’s not very verbal and often isn’t able to ask for what he wants or needs. For the most part, the Fifield family has had no trouble with the staff at Saint Luke’s Home and believes they do a great job taking care of him. But there is one area where this care seems to be lacking, and that’s food. His dietary restrictions prevent him from eating green vegetables, but his family says he should still be offered other vegetables and fruits at every meal.
“He’s not being fed balanced meals and he’s not getting proper nutrition. No vegetables, no fruit, no nothing,” says Maria’s husband, Ryan Fifield. “They have a menu, and on paper, the menu looks pretty good, but the problem is he doesn’t always get what he’s supposed to be getting.”
Recently, Maria took to social media to post a photo of her grandfather’s meal in an attempt to force the care home to make changes. The meal consisted of a large pile of dry macaroni and seven small pieces of chicken breast. Neither of these unappetizing foods appear to have any sauce or seasoning, except for the ketchup Maria’s grandfather added to the plain noodles in an attempt to make them more palatable.
“Yes, he has certain dietary restrictions and is unable to eat green food, but is this truly acceptable to feed to an 80-year-old man with a healthy appetite who is paying almost $3000 month for these services to be looked after? Maria wrote on Facebook. “I would feel horrible feeding this to my dog.”
Maria says it’s typical for her grandfather’s meal to come without any fruits or vegetables, and when the family wants to add something like that to the meal, they must go get it from the kitchen themselves. Often, all they’re able to get for him is a banana or, more likely, a fruit cup. For now, they’ve been taking him out of the facility whenever they can to provide home-cooked meals for him.
“This is our first time going through this but it does not seem good enough,” Maria’s post continues. “Our family has brought our concerns to management a few times previously. A well-balanced diet is important no matter what age you are.”
The Facebook post has earned a great deal of attention from internet users, who stand with Maria in condemning the home’s meal choices. Hundreds of people have reacted to the post, commented on it, and shared it in just a few short days.
Eastern Health refused to comment on individual patients’ cases due to privacy concerns but said in a statement that they are “committed to providing nutritious and balanced meals to residents of long-term care homes, while adhering to individual dietary restrictions.”
“Kitchen staff work to ensure that all meals are prepared safely and consistently by using standard recipes and ingredients, and there is a clinical dietician on-staff who is responsible for resident nutrition,” the statement said.
The family hopes their complaints and the resultant meeting with the care home will prompt positive changes in Maria’s grandfather’s care.
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?