When regulations introduced meal options for residents in senior living communities, it brought changes many thought were going to be costly and difficult to adapt. It has actually proved quite the opposite. Handwritten food orders that were often misread and produced mistakes, waste, and dissatisfaction from the diners were now clearly printed menu selection options. Efficiency increased while waste, cost, and mistakes were decreased. It became much easier to track allergies and special diets keeping the safety of the resident foremost in mind. Food servers found they could spend that extra minute or two conversing with the resident.
Chefs have faced the test of keeping the menu interesting while facing the change in dining services. It has been vital for the food serving team that begins in the kitchen to keep their team skills mastered in their training sessions. Kind Dining® emphasizes the importance of always carrying the team spirit. In these days of COVID-19, it is the food serving teamwork that is the lifeline of any senior community. When food service protocols are in place and followed your food servers will be providing a pleasant dining experience even though the communal dining room is closed. While stress may be in other parts of the community, mealtimes need to show none of it. Team spirit reigns from the kitchen through the halls to the individual rooms being serviced during this pandemic period.
Kind Dining® advises to set standards above those required by regulations and you will always be moving forward, improving your community. Training for new food servers and freshening up training for all food servers keeps your community with a forward-thinking mindset. Consistent training communicates expectations and reminds staff of the community’s values. It is also for the benefit of the food servers to be reminded that their skills and attitudes are to increase their cultural service, confidence, and personal value. When your leaders become coaches through Kind Dining® your staff will be able to adapt easier to build that determination that works for them.
When the permanence of change is sought, it comes from within. That is where the strength is located. Intentional focus on education, trust, and respect for residents, other staff, administration, and other food-serving teammates comes from proper training that changes the way your food serving staff think.
That is the heart of the matter.
Our B♥ Kind® Tip: Do you tell your food servers that you admire their style and efficiency?
The story came to me about a daughter’s sadness who planned to have a big celebration for her mother’s turning 80 years old in the senior living community. How disappointing, even in the midst of all the coronavirus chaos going on, that her big party plans could not take place. An 80th birthday only comes once. A party planner friend clued her in on what to do even though her mom was living in physical distancing.
She was advised to ask the chef if he could prepare a particular dinner. She and her family at home would have the exact same dinner, but they would be ‘sharing’ their mealtime by Zoom since her mom possessed an iPad. The daughter arranged lots of colorful balloons to fly high around the dining table at home where Zoom showed them.
She provided balloons along with their gifts to the community for her mom’s room. Of course, everyone dressed for the occasion, this was a video! Even Mom had good reason to dress up, pouf her hair, and add a bit of lipstick. Voila! A party atmosphere was blooming! The daughter had also arranged for a cake to be baked in the kitchen, again matching the same birthday cake that sat in the middle of the table at home. The final icing on the cake, pun intended, was a Birthday Parade! An hour after dinner was over daughter and family stepped into their cars flying Happy 80th Birthday flags and asked their neighbors to come in their own cars. Everyone was physically distanced and Mom had a very special 80th celebration with the food serving team helping out.
With all the focus being paid on prevention these days it is time to add some merriment to the picture. The dinner requested doesn’t have to be extremely exotic, only a simple dinner the chef can handle with ease in between his efforts to keep everyone happy with the new regulations of eating in their room. We celebrate with food, sharing a table but with lockdown, the sharing has a distance between them.
Kind Dining® is all about training food serving teams to serve meals hygienically and professionally. Good training is more important now more than ever! The basic skills are still necessary for good service but it’s also time to stretch those skills by adding a bit of imagination for those special occasions. These occasions will help keep residents from depression or feeling completely isolated from others in the community’s loss of visitors. Your food servers will feel confident when they apply what they have learned in training, knowing they will reduce the spread of germs of any kind and still able to contribute to a deserved 80th birthday celebration.
Our B♥ Kind® Tip: Your food serving teams have an important role to play in helping residents overcome loneliness and isolation during these stressful times.
There is no ‘I’ in team!
Find ways to praise co-workers at every opportunity.
Get Ready! Get Set! Go!
“Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.”
UCLA coach John Wooden
It’s important to continue having celebrations in this time of extreme caution and stress. Have you ever been in a restaurant when the table or two over from you received a cake lit with candles and the wait staff singing Happy Birthday? Didn’t it make you and the other diners around smile, maybe applaud or even join in the song? Maybe this is needed now, especially in today’s senior living community.
Happiness overflows to everyone that touches the celebration. Knowing the occasion, the kitchen will be joyful in preparing a special meal or cake, the food server in bringing it to the resident and everyone it passes will smile. Adding a balloon to the food cart is adding some fun.
Fine Dining® coaches the food serving team to work together in bringing a bit of joy at a time when it is most needed. It’s impossible to have a grim face when bringing a special celebration cake to a resident, so the food server gets to feel joyful, too.
It isn’t necessary that celebrating be confined to one resident. One night can be titled a “Jungle Safari Night” when the chef prepares kabobs, lots of fresh vegetables, and desserts with bananas or coconut to fit in with the theme. Elephant or monkey paper napkins can be used. Food servers can wear straw pith helmets or animal striped visors to join in the fun. Residents can use a little silly with all they have been enduring.
At your food serving staff meeting, invite your food serving team to come up with ideas for themes and how they can work it into their daily routine without disruption. Appealing to them at the planning stage encourages them to add their enthusiasm and makes your food servers a part of the overall team. This creates a bonding effect that guides the plan’s progress in a smooth way. It boosts morale and inspires a working team at a time when they can use the camaraderie. This in turn will strengthen your efforts toward person-directed culture change. Studies show staff empowerment is the key to leadership practices and decentralizes decision making. This shift to include the food serving staff to be part of change and responsibility leads to higher rates of staff retention and lower turnover. This makes for a stronger company and higher company values.
Our B♥ Kind® Tip: Kind Dining® coaching encourages leadership when you are brave enough to make positive changes.
It seems like Halloween, the food serving team is dressing up in weird costumes and carrying grandma’s dust cloth. Actually it’s the attire necessary for today’s responsibility for being on the job. Face masks, gloves, and cover-ups that the surgical team wore in the operating room is now what we see wherever caregivers gather to take care of residents in senior living communities. The dust cloth is probably Clorox wipes in hand wherever they may be needed. It’s the new normal but the old normal for food serving teams has remained the same, adding a little extra to what they have always done.
Many residents will need to have a gentle reassurance served with their meals. They will want to know the news of what is happening inside and outside their area. With time being crunched, trays must have everything on it that your diner will want with the meal, saving time of returning with an item overlooked or forgotten. Kind Dining® teaches that organization and training shows up in times of crisis. Mealtimes need to go just as smoothly regardless of what is going on in the external world. Food servers that excel in senior care are company assets that need to extend serving skills, share camaraderie, and show community spirit. Food servers are called upon to continue their high standards of quality service now when service can be a bit more difficult than the normal times left behind.
You can ask what your residents value most these days. Certainly, the answer is seeing the food server coming through the door to their room. It isn’t only the food. It is everything else the food server brings in, most of all her/his presence. The sound of a voice they recognize and a smiling face they know.
For forward-thinking administration, remember to show respect by thanking your food servers for their responsibility, loyalty, and courage. Let them know how highly they are valued in the company and by the residents. Surveys repeatedly show appreciation is high on the list of importance to food serving staff.
Our B♥ Kind® Tip: Mealtime means much more than food to our senior residents, now more than ever.