Have It Your Way

Resident panel plays critical role in developing fine-dining menu.

Photo by Nerissa Johnson.

Bea Yurkerwich (left) and Chef Yvonne Wilson

Anyone who enjoys quilting has probably run across a few of Bea Yurkerwich’s quilt designs. Bea, an accomplished quilting author, has been featured in quilting magazines around the world.

“Quilting is something I started doing after my husband and I retired,” says Bea, who spent most of her working years in Long Island, New York before moving to Florida. “I picked up a quilting kit one day and found that I really enjoyed it.

“But I soon got bored with the same old quilt squares that were available in the magazines, so I started to design my own. Since then, I’ve probably made about fifty quilts for family and friends using my own designs.”

Bea’s quilts and needlepoints adorn her apartment at Hibiscus Court Assisted Living, which became home to her a little more than a year ago after she decided that living alone had become too much for her to handle safely.

“My husband died about twelve years ago, and taking care of our big, old house all by myself started to become difficult for me because I have arthritic knees and use a walker and sometimes get vertigo,” Bea relates.

“It was just too much for me to keep the house clean, so I started looking at assisted living communities. As soon as I finished my tour of Hibiscus Court, I knew it was the place I wanted to be.”

Hibiscus Court of Melbourne Assisted Living and Memory Care Community offers an assisted living program, senior day care services, short-term respite stays for seniors recovering from illness or surgery and a secure memory support community called The Garden.

It also features a private chef, Yvonne Wilson, who makes the dining experience second to none, including for residents with special needs such as Bea, who lives with diabetes but is flourishing now because she has the benefits of a private chef and a nurse who is just steps away if needed.

“Part of what makes the dining experience so unique at Hibiscus Court is that we have a food committee that’s made up of our residents,” Yvonne says. “The committee and I discuss their preferences and specific needs, and I build the menu based on that.

“We also have a dietician that I work with when creating the menus for each meal, and we listen closely to what the residents have to say. Dining is a large part of the lifestyle we’ve built at Hibiscus. We have a hospitality model, we are here to make our residents happy and add to their quality of life.

“We also always have a large standing alternate menu that the residents can choose from. That way, there are always a lot of options for our residents.”

Living with diabetes, Bea has to limit her intake of carbohydrates and sugars. She also prefers to avoid red meat and cannot eat pork because she’s allergic to it. Despite those restrictions, she says she’s always satisfied with her meals.

“I can always substitute fish or chicken or another type of meat or protein if pork or steak is on the menu,” Bea says. “And I’m not a big fan of peas, so I’ll often substitute carrots or maybe a tomato if that’s what we’re having.

“Yvonne does a great job of giving everybody a good choice,” Bea adds. “I always have the option of choosing something other than what’s on the main menu, and I like that. It helps me to get the protein I need as well as the right amount of carbs and vegetables. Depending on what’s on the menu I will just order a half-portion because they always give us a lot of food.

“No matter what it is that she makes, it’s always good. I mean that. She really does a great job. Like everything else here at Hibiscus Court, the food is exceptional. I really couldn’t be happier with the food, the people. I love everything about it.”

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