The Meadows of Aurora: A Boutique Approach to Senior Living Care

Published on : 5/3/22
  • Overview

    The Meadows of Aurora is an upscale and vibrant resort-style community where Christian seniors can age in place. Located in the town of Aurora in the heart of the York region, The Meadows is more than a home. It is a maintenance-free contemporary community of close to 400 residents, providing quality-oriented facilities. The age-in-place philosophy allows residents to remain at The Meadows beyond independent living, with assisted living suites and specialized memory care facilities.

    In March 2021, with the new Woodland Towers set to open with an array of new services to all residents, including food services and a convenience shop, the administration made its choice of service providers. Sodexo Canada was selected to provide hospitality-based dining services for all residents at The Meadows.

    Committed to creating a culture of excellence and ensuring a superior experience, Sodexo recognized that residents deserved premium services, combined with a positive and caring environment. The scope of services includes offering three-course meals at three dining locations — each tailored for their respective level of care, running a café and a lounge, offering catering services and running a convenience retail shop.

    Sodexo partnered with The Meadows to redefine senior living. By bringing our opening expertise, we used a boutique approach to develop an offering with resident engagement at the forefront. 

    Learn more about how Sodexo Canada can move your community forward.


    The Meadows by the Numbers

    400 residents
    60 assisted living suites
    20 suites for memory care
    175 meals served every day, with an estimated 400 meals a day within the next few months


    The Offer

    The resident-centric offer supports The Meadows of Aurora’s brand awareness as a top-tier senior living community, attracting new residents and keeping existing residents satisfied.

    • Inspired Dining: Memorable culinary experiences that surpass expectations for taste and quality with fresh ingredients, scratch cooking and locally sourced food. This program includes a four-week menu cycle with four seasonal changes, special engagement and culinary events. Dining offers are specific to independent living, assisted living and memory care.
    • The Café: An informal gathering place residents can gravitate to between structured mealtimes. Our philosophy is to marry our in-house creations with local favourites.
    • The Lounge: A cozy library bar where seasonality will play a specific role in the offering and how the space is being used.
    • The Shoppe: An onsite convenience model shop equipped to provide take-home meal options as well as home essentials such as basic pantry essentials and sundries.
    • Catering Services: Daily and special event menus adapted according to needs.


    Resident, The Meadows of Aurora, says:

    One just has to look around at the guests’ faces during dinners to really appreciate the hard work that has gone into creating a very pleasant atmosphere and a truly wonderful dining experience. Congratulations to Sodexo and the Director of Dining Services, Joseph Soroka, for not only proving our community with amazing meals that rival or exceed any outside restaurants but also for providing the epitome of customer service.

    The Approach

    At Sodexo Canada, the approach to opening a new unit is to create a collaborative partnership with our client. Our resident-centric approach focuses on co-creation and scalability. The earlier we are engaged in the process, the easier it is to build an offer that reflects and validates the client’s vision and needs.

    At The Meadows, we proposed a foundational operational plan meant to evolve with each stage of the process. We brought in a highly experienced and approachable management team with an undeniable commitment to the well-being of the residents. Our boutique approach is based on three pillars of excellence: opening expertise, early engagement and people who care.


    Opening Expertise and Early Engagement

    Director of Dining Services Joseph “Joe” Soroka and executive chef Trent Mills form a creative, passionate and powerful team, bringing with them more than 50 years of experience. Their early involvement in the opening process and their expertise were essential to the execution of Sodexo and The Meadows’ vision for a high-end, hospitality-based dining and retail experience.

    Within a month of signing, our management team met with stakeholders to understand and piece together the specific needs. Once the request was clarified, they visited the construction site to make sure all requirements were met. Following a thorough gap analysis, multiple adjustments and changes were needed for us to execute to our highest standards and drive operational efficiencies. These changes ranged from adding power outlets to relocating cabinets to adjusting design features.

    Functionality is as important as aesthetics. That is why a service partner needs to be involved as early as possible in the planning process to avoid operational issues and additional unplanned expenses.


    People Who Care

    We believe that the best way to ensure resident satisfaction is to develop a culture of care. Because people are at the heart of what we do, proposals and offers are never static — they are adapted to the vision each client has for their residents. From retail services to our inspired dining experiences, our offers are resident-driven.

    The Sodexo management team at The Meadows is committed to elevating the resident experience every day. Joe and Trent’s involvement in the community has a profound impact on the work they do daily. They promote a culture of care that trickles down to each member of the Sodexo team. From catering to the needs of each resident without compromise to addressing residents' pets by their names, to taking the time to chat for a few minutes at the shop, these daily interactions elevate the resident experience at The Meadows.

    In addition, the management team sits on a food committee to better understand the needs of the residents. Since the opening of the dining area, the menu has evolved solely based on residents’ comments. The team’s approachable attitude means residents feel comfortable talking to them, making it easier for the team to keep tabs on their satisfaction levels.

    Joseph Soroka, Director of Dining Services says:

    The approach is: This is their house. If we can do it, why not execute it?

    The COVID Challenge

    Opening during a global pandemic presented multiple challenges. The timeline and scope of work had to be adjusted, including later opening dates, reduced meal offerings and reduced dining area capacities.

    The greatest challenge, and one shared by many businesses today, was recruitment. One of the team’s priorities was to keep the client informed at every turn. It took planning and persistence to fill all staffing requirements. The team was confident they could train the new hires and build high-performing teams, and they have.
    Key steps included:

    • Advertising open food service positions in local newspapers
    • Leveraging job postings on Facebook and Indeed, as well as websites for newspapers in Barrie and the York region
    • Ensuring wage rates aligned with the market expectations in the area to attract the right talent
    • Enhancing employee benefits to promote staff retention and satisfaction, as a collaborative effort by Sodexo and the Meadows of Aurora 


    Ontario’s COVID-19 policies are being followed. Services are and have been, adapted accordingly.


    A Successful Partnership

    By involving our team early in the process of opening, The Meadows of Aurora benefited from our high-level expertise, allowing for a streamlined process to move the community forward. Our collaborative partnership has led to an outstanding resident experience.

    Dawn Irwin, General Manager of The Meadows of Aurora, says:

    “Working with Sodexo has truly been a collaborative partnership. Since day one, the Sodexo team has listened to The Meadows of Aurora’s needs and took the time to understand our values while putting resident care and safety first to bring our vision to life.”