A friend mentioned that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Christmas story has been accused of exposing the young stag to bullying. She claimed that his dad Donner, made fun of his red nose and shunned him. Furthermore the school coach said, “From now on, gang, we won’t let Rudolph join in any reindeer games, right?”
A tremendous number of people responded by tweeting their opinions. Not all of them took kindly to the criticism. My friend happily noted that the problem was resolved to everyone’s satisfaction when Santa needed the red nose that caused so much consternation.
For certain, that is a situation you want to avoid in your retirement community. Because something has always ‘been that way’ if it is hurtful, the old way must be changed. Kind Dining® teaches new sensitivity training for your food service team. It’s vital that they are alert to any behavior that is negative to your retirement community. That means being aware of treating others on the food serving team with courtesy, kindness, and consideration as well as treating your residents the same.
Your food servers can be trained to be observant to the residents’ sentiments; if they need a bit of an uplifting comment or encouragement in finding a table to join. The baby boomers who have chosen a new way of living by making a retirement community their home have embraced their worldly experiences. They look for diversity in their neighbors and their culture. It especially shows up in the dining room. Kind Dining® staff training teaches cultivating relationship skills between food servers and residents. Building self-esteem is important for your food serving staff and breaks down the barriers people have created. It’s about teamwork that includes hospitality for residents. Everyone receives personal attention in the dining room. No one is left out or made to feel excluded.
Residents use 60% of their typical day preparing for and enjoying the dining room experience. Yes, it is more than just grabbing a bite to eat. It is a social time to share a meal with friends tended by a serving staff that caters to them. It is important that residents feel their appearance in the dining room is wanted by other residents. The food serving staff can help the resident feel welcome by introducing them to other diners, by initiating conversations and by giving their attention. Your food servers have the power to create an extended family friendliness.
Our B♥ Kind® Tip: Is there a new resident in your dining room today? Make an effort to get to know them.
A friend said the winter holiday season was a favorite of hers because it was the only time of year when extended family came to visit when she was a child. The adults gathered around the dining room table laden with all the holiday foods that were never seen during the year. When the table was cleared, the nuts, fruits, and drinks were set out. That was when the stories began to flow. The children were set up in the kitchen to eat, then outside to play afterwards.
At that time, she was sure to sit quietly on the floor in the perimeter of the room so she wouldn’t be chased away with “go play. Grown-ups are talking.” That’s the exact reason she wanted to remain. No one told family stories the rest of the year. This was her time to learn the family lore, the struggles that were made, and the triumphs. She also heard the stories of the childhoods of this older generation. She could never get her mother or father to talk about when they were children. They always replied with, “Oh, that was long ago. I don’t remember.”
Of course she continued with the same tradition in her own household. Now that she lived in a retirement community she thoroughly enjoyed gathering with the warmth of the dining table to listen to her friends and neighbors tell of their holiday traditions. They were varied from different ethnic backgrounds and religions.
“That’s what makes it so interesting to me.” She continued, “The friends I met in the community have stories that are new to me and diverse. We all reminisce which keeps our own stories alive. Sometimes photos of earlier holidays are brought out to share. Family stories flow and there is no one to chase me away.”
Kind Dining® training centers on the dining room being the heart of the residents’ day. This is a certainty during the multi-holiday season. Most residents prefer to remain in their home where convenience reigns rather than the challenge of travel with all its fuss and chaos. Celebrating the season by sharing stories at the table chases isolation away. Being able to speak of one’s own past holidays actually keeps a senior active in the present.
Food servers can add to the ambiance of festivity by wearing holiday related accessories that will spark comments and conversations between residents and the food serving staff. Holiday aprons that are cheerful and attractive are popular and fun. The chef may take requests for particular holiday foods to bring authenticity to the stories shared. Decorations in the dining room add to the joy of the season increasing even the weakest of appetites. It is a season for enjoying the camaraderie of retirement community life.
Our B♥ Kind® Tip: Sharing stories of past holidays chases away feelings of isolation!
My friend’s brother returned home to the States after 50 years of living abroad. “Nearly all of those years were in Puerto Rico where he owned a very successful business. Now his health was failing and he yearned for the land of his youth. Our family was a multi-generation of chefs and cooks. Our other brother also owned a restaurant at one time. Our father was a chef and during the depression he cooked in an institution as did my mother’s mother. My mother did a lot of volunteer cooking for fund raisers.”
She continued, “During a brief stay in the hospital, the first time since his youth, my brother was quite surprised at the food menu offered. He was equally surprised that he had a choice and the actual meals served were far superior than he expected. Critical comments were all he had heard from others who did have the experience of hospital stays.
“He was so pleased that he wrote on his menu, Thank you for the delicious food you presented. I
am very impressed.
“One of the food servers must have shown it to the chef. The chef came up to my brother’s room to spend a few minutes with the only patient who had ever sent a note to the kitchen. And it was complimentary besides! The visit impressed my brother even more.”
I mention this because a connection was made that is meaningful to any community dining room. Chefs cook because they love what they do. The connection from chef to resident is the connection between selecting and preparing fresh, carefully cooked, appetizing meals to the residents. It is essential for the chef to occasionally step into the dining room to say hello, I hope you enjoyed your meal today. It isn’t necessary to do this every day but it does make a difference. It forms a crucial connection. It brings a personal touch to both the kitchen staff and the residents.
Kind Dining® training encourages forming these connections within the food service team to the residents. Personal appearances by the chef create a sense of trust. The residents will know this chef and his kitchen staff truly care about how his efforts in creating tempting meals are received. Each one matters.
Our B♥ Kind ® Tip: Building connections between your food serving team and your residents is
Remember when you were a little kid going to school and the teacher responded to your raised hand when you knew the answer? A friend was telling me about her memory.
“I was learning to read in first grade. I raised my hand to read a sentence and my teacher, Mrs. Smith called on me by name. She took time to boost my self-esteem by easing me out of my shyness. She made me feel special by paying attention to me. Sometimes she would remark about my work or my hair, something personal. I’ll always remember her for it and it has been many decades ago. It gave me courage to speak out unafraid. There was always a nice comment written on my report card, too. Mom and Dad were delighted to read that. Of course, as I look back, I realize now what I didn’t realize then, that she made each one of us feel special.”
Remembering how you felt and responded to a kindness, even from as long ago as your young childhood can be turned into a guideline in present day food serving techniques. What made you feel special long ago will bring the same results with the seniors in your community dining room.
Memories are wonderful moments to call on when wanting to nurture the seniors your food servers attend at mealtimes. Be sincere. Encourage your staff to find just one little item about a senior that they can honestly compliment on. Advise them to watch the power of their words work. If the senior pays the compliment forward it could turn viral and you’ll have a full dining room of joyful, smiling seniors. The end result lifts the compliment giver’s spirit, too. They will feel happier, raising their own self esteem. Kind Dining® coaching helps your dining room staff to come by these techniques and incorporate them into their daily routines so they become as natural to them as breathing.
Paying personal attention to a senior at mealtime is a small matter that carries a long way. If the person is shy, it will give confidence and build trust between you. A small act of kindness will change a bad mood. Just being recognized will change your diner’s thoughts to positive ones. You may have just pulled a resident out of a depression, or at least brightened her way. It’s known that receiving a compliment ignites creativity and sometimes unblocks a thinking process. A compliment can bring on a smile which may turn into laughter and we all know that laughter burns calories?
Our B♥ Kind ® Tip: Happiness is contagious.