Arlene – the state surveyor – sat down to interview me, and it changed how I could make a real difference. I had spent the first two weeks on the job organizing the inter-workings and cleaning of the kitchen, reading the notes from the nurses on each resident’s dietary information.
“Why is Ms. Anderson on a puree diet?” she asked.
I rose to the occasion and answered, “because Nurse Betty said so, you know they give you these little cards with all the dietary information on it.”
“That is not a good enough answer,” she said, stunning me. “You need to know Ms. Anderson well enough to answer that question yourself.”
I was thinking, ‘no one told me that.’ Arlene was stern, but kind and committed in that moment to making me feel valued. She called me to be an equal partner in the resident’s care.
If I could commit to change, by feeling valued, I continued thinking, and finding a new sense of purpose, so can anyone else. Arlene had called me to do something that was outside my job description to really know the residents, learn to work on equal footing with co-workers from all departments, because all people matter. We each have something to contribute.
Person-centered care is now mandated in an effort to ensure that quality of life is maintained as high a level as possible for every resident. Surveys state that residents spend 60% of their time focused on meals. Their anticipation in dressing for the social end of it, eating food they want,
visiting with residents and family and enjoying discussions on other aspects of the community day.
Mealtime touches the emotions. Residents anticipate being served in a courteous manner by those who have a positive attitude and are socially adept. Serving techniques need to be correct in a room that exudes ambiance to enhance the appetite. How meals are served matters!
Kind Dining ® training is necessary because residents, due to their age, were probably raised in a home with proper table settings and social manners. If the serving staff is of a younger generation, in their first job, or from a different culture who have never served meals before, they may not be aware of these important, competent skills of serving in a more person directed way.
Remember, happy diners make happy residents who will recommend your community to their friends and family.
B♥ Kind® Tip: Think about what life is like for your residents. How can you make mealtimes more satisfying for them?
A friend of mine told me that when he wanted to wait tables in a well-known, upscale restaurant, he first dined there, choosing the busiest time of the evening for his visit. He was interested in the quality and presentation of the food for the high price he was paying. Even more than that, he was interested in watching the wait staff to evaluate them before making the big decision to apply as a wait person. He looked for attitude to see if the wait staff loved the work they were doing or was it just a job. He saw a waiter joyfully deliver plates to a table that was not “hers” as the other waiter was busy with another table.
One waiter refilled all the glasses with water while he waited to pick up his next serving. Chairs were pulled out for the guests. Casual comments of welcome came easily and were returned with smiles. One table of diners mentioned their special occasion for coming and that they were first timers. My friend said it was like watching a well-choreographed ballet with the wait staff seemingly floating from one duty to another. The dining room was filled to capacity, yet the servers smoothly attended to their customers without a rushing hassle. It was beautiful to watch knowing he would be part of this scene in a day or two. He would be proud to work here.
A dining room is a dining room whether it is in a restaurant or in your community. The same results can be had when your serving staff is trained by Kind Dining®. Becoming aware of the entire room when it is overall neat, clean, tables set, and meals served properly is a beginning. It’s important that your servers come to know the residents by name and by small details that make brief conversations personal and easy. This will give your residents pride in the home they live in and pride to your serving staff in where they work.
Encouraging your servers to help each other and even to interact with other working shifts creates an award-winning team that turns your dining room into a ballet. Empowering your employees with this responsibility enables them rise to a challenge, to diffuse a situation before it becomes a situation. Your administration will appreciate this teamwork as much as the residents do and those who work in teams tend to stay happily where they are, rather than seeking a new place to work. That is a result makes everyone happy.
Kind Dining ® Tip: Wouldn’t You Like Your Team of Servers Working Smoothly and Hassle-Free in Your Dining Room?
When a friend of mine was widowed all her friends gathered around her to give her comfort. They also agreed among themselves that she would be included in all their functions in the future so she would not feel left out, even though they were couples and she was not anymore. After 6 months of being stuck on the end of the table in a restaurant or being the third person squeezed into the back seat of the car, she began to decline the invitations of her dear friends. She just did not fit anymore. It was better to stay home.
She eventually did find other friends who shared her single status, going out in mixed groups and enjoying her life as a single person. When she decided to move into a retirement community she remembered her earlier experiences and particularly looked at the dining room seating arrangement during her tour. When she saw round tables and long tables for family dining, that resident community went to the top of the list. She stayed for lunch purposely to watch the servers, noting their attitude, courtesy and overall competence. Serving staff greeted residents by name, pulled chairs out for them, exchanging words of welcome.
That particular retirement residence was the one she happily chose. She thanked the friend who gave her some extra tips on what to look for in a retirement campus. You just know she is going to pass forward this important information to other friends of hers looking for their retirement home.
The dining room is so much more than a place to eat, even if the food is excellent. It’s a place to socialize, to continue the bonds of family visits, a place to foster new relationships, and a place the serving staff need specialized Kind Dining© training to give the resident satisfaction. These personal touches are appreciated much more than the fancy coffee machine or a stunning reception area in the main office. It will make your community stand out among the others.
As a friend and I were reminiscing about our teen years, she mentioned the agony of walking into a school dance and not knowing what to do, where to go and hoping someone would come to her rescue.
A single or widowed resident may feel that same agony when entering your campus dining room if she finds all tables are set for couples. It’s important to have some round tables with an odd number of seating to create a mix of people who are not part of a pair. Long tables may be created by pushing smaller tables together and will encourage a blending of singles and couples with ease.
Setting tables properly is more than where knives and forks are placed. The happiness of your resident seeing a place to sit without that odd man out feeling is a small adjustment to make in your dining room but creates a major, comforting moment for your resident.
Kind Dining training will show your servers how to use their power in making your residents happy and satisfied. No one in your dining room will feel alone in a room full of people. Dining is so much more than just eating.
B♥ Kind® Tip: In a room full of people, no one should ever feel alone.
And this is only the tip of the iceberg! For more information on the opportunity of Kind Dining© training, contact me at: www.HigherStandards.org