Speaking of importance in a dining room…
“I stopped trying to chase the perfect place to be, and realized the perfect place is with your loved ones and your closest friends, around the dinner table, over a good meal, talking about the past year and the year to come and things that you want to change in your life. You hear their stories and talk about things you like to see happen in the world. That’s what we do.” ~ Hilary Swank
While the table in your community dining may be filled with people you’ve met for the first time, the joy of sharing the table is the same. The social exchange of conversation while having dinner, lunch, or breakfast truly enriches a person’s day. In time those other residents may become your new best friends.
“The dinner table is the center for the teaching and practicing not just of table manners but of conversation, consideration, tolerance, family feeling, and just about all other accomplishments of polite society except the minuet.” – Judith Martin, a.k.a. Miss Manners
The dining room in your community is the most important room in your community. It’s where many seniors will meet for the first time and often meet residents of other cultural backgrounds. It’s where many will bond and find a ‘chosen family’ of friends. It’s where many will proudly invite their families to join them, to see why they love the community they chose. It is the key to a new life for seniors choosing a new style of life.
“Back in the old days, when I was a child, we sat around the family table at dinner time and exchanged our daily experiences. It wasn't very organized, but everyone was recognized and all the news that had to be told was told by each family member. We listened to each other and the interest was not put on; it was real.” Bob Keeshan (Captain Kangaroo)
It cannot be denied. Universal knowledge, as these quotes from various walks of life, show the focus in your community needs to be your dining room. Kind Dining® has affordable training for your food servers to utilize the most important room in your community. Leading the way for your food servers to do the best job they can and learning how easy it is with practice, to build pride in what they do, and to incorporate teamwork into their daily schedule is within your reach.
Our B♥ Kind ® Tip: Mealtime means much more than food to our residents.
Autumn turns a chef’s ideas to serving comforting foods to your community residents gathering around the traditional table of warmth and congeniality. It’s a time for coming in out of the cold, looking forward to sharing a meal and conversation that warms your heart and your tummy. It’s a special time to bring new and long-time friends together where residents may find brilliantly colored leaves, pumpkins and apples on the table. A time when seeing their table companions creates a feeling warmer than knee-high socks and furry boots.
Hospitality in the autumn has a different aura than any other time of year. It is a great time for your food servers to exercise their teamwork, extending a helping hand naturally the way I teach through Kind Dining® transformational training.
Allow your food servers to invest in your community by their offering suggestions for improvements. Open the door to staff discussions. When your food servers, which include those often unseen in the kitchen, accept responsibility for their work, their self-image rises and they will come to love the work they do. Seemingly small things like restocking the pantry or passing along any particular note of information to the oncoming shift will come as another part of their day. This awareness of higher standards of the work day will overflow to the residents in a positive way. Happy residents mean a happy community which means a happy company. It’s an ‘everybody wins’ situation.
Culture change and personalizing service in the dining room builds trust between food servers and residents. Training sessions with Kind Dining® will show your food servers how to easily please residents whose expectations were to receive good service when they chose your community. Well-trained food servers are your company’s best marketing asset.
Our B♥ Kind ® Tip: Remember, the service you give has the power to build community
“As soon as the trees begin to turn into a glorious canvas of autumn colors, I begin to think of Thanksgiving Day. I mean this year’s Thanksgiving Day to come, based on all the previous ones I remember. I love that Day and think it is my favorite holiday of the year because it is all about gathering around the table with friends, family, and a stranger or two, sharing hospitality.”
A friend said this to me recently reminding me of the learning about hospitality I received at each of my own Thanksgiving Days growing up. I carried that learning into my career when I started in the restaurant industry, where a passion developed for customer service, hospitality, and good food. I continued further by becoming a food service director in a primitive residential camp in a remote area of Alaska. That particular position taught me how people rely on food to bring them a sense of contentment when they are in an unfamiliar setting. That is what elders face when coming into a senior living community new to them and stepping into the dining room those first few times.
Emotion sits at the table along with aroma, appearance, and companionship. When I left the primitive camp position, I fulfilled my youthful dream of owning my own restaurant, and became an operating partner who gained a ton of experience in our two restaurants in Juneau. After leaving the restaurant business and moving to Oregon, I became a dietary manager in a large nursing home. That is where I changed the way I looked at food service, differently, and forever. I was called on to do much more outside my job description, to meet each resident personally, and work on equal footing with all co-workers from all departments. I was committed. A seed planted grew into a large tree that eventually became my Higher Standards version of hospitality to the elder care marketplace. I knew I could make an important difference in communities serving
I gained much more experience and education in those years. My passion continued to grow.
Kind Dining® curriculum was born using hospitality as the foundation and civility as the tone. Hospitality and civility go hand in hand as a universal language that treats others with kindness, love, and generosity. Kind Dining® is a hands-on training session where I teach that food needs to be served, not just dispensed and where food servers benefit by learning the right skills. It’s best to learn by doing rather than trying to learn by words only.
Our B♥ Kind ® Tip: Remember, happy diners make happy residents who will recommend your
senior living community.
When a friend who taught occupational therapy suffered a stroke and wound up in a nursing home for permanent and long term care, she learned a new way to look at what she had been teaching for many years. As her progress restored her to a normal life again she wrote notes about her experience so improvements could be made on the earlier education she taught. She eventually wrote a book about it to help others and their families with decisions they may want to make.
Much later, looking back she realized how fortunate she was in being placed in a nursing home where the caregivers truly did care. Adjusting to mealtimes was major. Food servers showed enough respect for her intelligence by showing her a new way to cut up the food on her plate by using a rocker knife instead of cutting the food for her. As someone who worked hard to return to her former physical self, she didn’t want someone to do it for her. On days when she was thoughtful and quiet, she chose the small dining room off to the side, away from the noisier large cafeteria, appreciating she had a choice of where to eat.
In the earlier days, when she did go into the larger cafeteria, a food server guided her to a table occupied with congenial residents until she acclimated and could choose her own seat. She received individual attention which created a family-like comfort. Food servers called her by name, were cheerful, and encouraging her every step along the way. This was especially important because she had no family living locally. When she fully recovered and returned to her own home, she bought small gifts for many of the food servers and caregivers. She remembered some had gone above the required assistance to lift her spirits when she was frustrated or they just showed extra kindness. She would always remember them.
My Kind Dining® training program was designed to introduce your food servers to being aware of the individual, to unlearn poor serving habits, turning them into skills, and for food servers to become sensitive to residents during their stay in your senior living community. Embracing the new regulations and adapting them into daily routines through my training program will build pride in your food servers and bring sparkle to the eye of the residents in your dining room.
Our B♥ Kind ® Tip: Stop, look and listen. Where can you improve service?
My friend told me “I admit that I was eavesdropping in a restaurant when I heard the word ‘bullying’ mentioned. Expecting to hear a story about kids in school I was quite surprised when they were talking about a senior community not too far away. Claiming territory in the dining room seemed to be the most common. Some tables were saved for friends of their own, no newcomers allowed. Name calling was a close second, especially in the Bingo room if a game was not won by someone in their clique.”
She continued, “They talked about a 70 year old woman who was abused so badly i.e. having her dinner table intentionally bumped with a wheelchair hard enough that her soup spilled onto the floor. After being spit on in the elevator, because her partner of 30 years, who had passed away, was a woman, she’d had enough. She filed a law suit against the community and moved to another community.”
Most bullies attempt to feel superior by making others social outcasts if they don’t comply with the bully’s demands. Women tend to do more bullying than men in the senior communities. They often choose to criticize the same person and insult them, trip them entering the dining room, and refuse to allow them to join in a social group. Men have been noted for their sexual bullying in some communities.
Staff and food servers can be bullies and not even be aware of it. They may think they are ‘teasing’ a resident when actually they are insulting or belittling them. Food servers, staff, and residents have an obligation to report such behavior. Administrators must support those who bring bullying to their attention. It’s important that they make arrangements to receive confidential information from witnesses.
Kind Dining® training offers solutions in how to counteract and disarm people who bully, by using non-confrontational responses. You can be taught how to build a solid foundation to reject aggressive behavior and to adopt a Code of Conduct for everyone in your community. Your staff can learn to prevent a situation from progressing before it becomes a calamity. Sensitivity training can make a huge difference to your community. Everyone, including administration, needs to carry the knowledge of how to avert a bully’s disaster when they happen upon a situation. All of your residents have a right and expectation to live a peaceful life in the community they chose to call home.
Our B♥ Kind ® Tip:Do you know how to avert bullying, allowing all your retirement community residents to live in peace.