I often write about welcoming new residents that have chosen your community for the next chapter of their lives, which may be a fresh beginning for them. Your dining room is an important place for them to meet friends by sharing a meal and listening to their stories. Another way to look at them is that they have chosen your community as their homes until the end of their lives. With person-centered care in demand, training is often needed to learn the ways of considerations not used before.
Time has proven that employee behavior and attitude plays a major role in the success of a company. This includes your community. You want your residents to remain with you for their last chapter of their lives. The impression made by your food servers is considered in that decision for them to remain in your community. Encourage food servers to become aware of the residents’ personal stories to build a bonding connection. When they connect with the diners they serve, a higher resident satisfaction is attained. Higher satisfaction means word of mouth referrals and higher income from frequent family and guest meals served.
Kind Dining® training is designed to assist communities to accomplish those goals. It includes improved professional serving skills, which creates happier food servers who come to love the job they do. This lowers turnover of employees and increased productivity. Changing the culture of dining toward a unique brand of hospitality, civility, and service energizes a food staff that works as a team building trust and changing the process.
It is essential for management to remember and to emphasize that hospitality is a universal language and a learned skill that anyone can adapt if they desire it. Committing to these beliefs will ensure that all residents will receive the same level of service quality and care while dining.
It is what I believe personally and professionally.
Our B♥ Kind® Tip: Remember, the service you give has the power to build community.
Ambiance in the dining room is vital to success in the community. That means a food serving staff working together, cheerfully, enjoying the work they do. Dining seniors will respond in kind to that attitude if they see it every mealtime. Forward-thinking providers and administrators see the wisdom and value of arming their food serving staff with skills that improve the diners’ and the food servers’ mealtimes. The manner in which they treat each other is driven by their values. That’s why companies establish values to communicate clear direction and shape the behaviors of staff. Kind Dining® training develops food serving personal and professional behaviors to create that ambiance you want in your dining room, attracting customers to prefer your community over any other.
While the seniors are the focus of food servers it is important that food serving staff have and show the same respect to each other. Kindness between food servers is just as essential and will also be noticed by the diners. If food servers notice where an improvement can be made, encourage them to bring it to management’s attention. Food servers can show that they care about the community beyond just earning a living; that they take pride in their work. Cultivating relationship skills and building self-esteem gives each food serving staff member a voice. When they see their own value and are able to care for each other, they are better able to respond to senior needs.
Enhancing seniors’ quality of life by improving the dining experience translates ultimately to the bottom line for business owners and administrators. It’s the goal for the higher standard set for your dining room reflecting over your entire community.
Our B♥ Kind® Tip: Mealtimes are an opportunity to develop a sense of community.
A friend told me about her friend Anne starting a new job as a food server in a senior living community. She ran smack into a bully that pulled gloom down over everyone in the dining room. It was a sad place to be. She boldly criticized every other food server trying to get the residents to laugh at them.
They didn’t. They did look uncomfortable but hesitated to say anything, lest the woman turned on them. The bully also made derogatory comments about the food that came out of the kitchen. Residents looked down at their plates with an expression of ‘do I want to eat this or not?’ When she started on her friend, Anne put up her hand, palm out and quietly said, “Stop. You don’t know me. I will not tolerate any comments from you to me or about me.” She made it a point to make pleasantries to each of the residents she served. The other wait staff practically glowed when she extended a helping hand without being asked. She smiled at them with friendliness. Anne did not shun the bully but she did not cater to her either. The next day she extended the same pleasantries to her as she did to the others.
The bully’s reaction was silence. It was obvious that she watched Anne and the effect she had on the dining room. The other food servers picked up the cue and began smiling….at everyone! The residents and their fellow food servers loved it! When the bully shot a rude comment to a server, the server shook her head side to side, meaning, NO! She went on serving cheerfully as the bully just closed her mouth and left it closed.
Kind Dining® trains food servers on how to change their attitude and learn to work together. We coach personal and professional habits of hospitality to give the food serving team tools to use in bringing value to their work. These are skills that can be learned to improve your residents’ and your food serving teams’ dining experience.
Our B♥ Kind® Tip: Mealtimes offer an extraordinary opportunity to excel at customer care.
Seniors telling their stories is an important part of who they are as they evolve into their elder years. I heard a WWII veteran tell his story on NPR’s StoryCorp. He was part of a platoon who had to come up with ideas on deception; how to fool the enemy into believing misinformation. One of the tools they used was sound. The platoon slipped into the Normandy woods after midnight and turned the sound up loud to create the image of tanks and troops moving through the village by the hundreds. The next day local townspeople were on Main Street talking about what they ‘saw’ the night before. Word was passed on to the enemy who had no idea that it was false.
Telling your own stories at the table in the dining room is an excellent way to make friends and for your friends to get to know the real you. They often open up a quiet person reluctant to speak of themselves but want to make a comment in reply to your story. In retirement communities, many seniors will be starting a new way of life and meeting new friends. Often they are coming into the dining room solo which is the most natural place to sit next to someone to hear their story while sharing a meal. Friendships are bonded in this way. It’s part of what makes the dining room in your community so vital. Your food servers can assist in the success by being aware of which resident needs an introduction to the particular table suited to her. It’s part of the food servers getting to know the residents she serves. It is an added helpfulness if your food servers realize your community is expected to be the residents’ last home. That thought increases the intention of making it the happiest experience possible. Families and friends will carry your community as a memory long after a friend/family member has passed away.
This is a situation that Kind Dining® addresses as a transformational process that helps your food servers become aware of achieving higher standards of quality which leads to resident-centered success. Your food servers who need professional development will exhibit a change of behavior and your new food servers will be starting out savvy with the skills they learn. We at Kind Dining® have the resources to offer an extraordinary opportunity to have your food servers excel in enhancing your residents’ health and well-being.
It’s what I do.