What is your body language saying?

What is your body language saying?

“When I entered the store, with my mask on,” a lady was telling me, “I was terrified! Everyone looked so weird and scary hiding behind their masks. This was all new and looked so very strange. I took a deep breath. This is life today, I told myself.  Then I truly looked and found that people were smiling at me because they were feeling the same way I was.  I could see it when I looked in their eyes and I knew it would end in the months ahead and all would be well again.”

This is where we are today. Life goes on. Retirement, long term care and assisted living communities quickly adapted to protect their residents and their employees. Next, they refined daily routines to further keep residents as safe as possible. Those working in food service, now bringing meals to resident’s rooms but just as important, they continue to be cheerful, confidant and smiling behind their masks to convey safe haven to each resident.

In Kind Dining ®, you learn that your mask only covers the nose and mouth. The twinkle in your eye when you smile shows like bright shining stars. Your cheerful “hello, how are you today,” when you enter a resident’s room communicates comfort and safety. It is just what your residents want to hear. Your body language is universal and understood by all nationalities. 

Your pleasant and engaging demeanor with residents is especially important now because they have been denied personal visits by family and friends. It helps to fill that empty space of aloneness when food servers spend that extra moment or two passing the time of day. Eating a meal is still an emotional experience. Your residents have taken care to place their orders and have waited in anticipation for the meals to arrive. Mealtimes are meaningful times of the day. The manner in how they are served is vital. Food servers are providing nutrition for the body, the heart, and the soul. They remain key figures of the community.


Do you build relationships with hospitality one meal at a time?

Do you build relationships with hospitality one meal at a time?

Many positions covering a wide range of skills are open in nursing homes and assisted living communities now. These include a new position created as ‘room service attendant’ in response to in-room dining resulted from necessary physical distancing. The positions may sound like a temporary solution while this pandemic lasts but if the community has the Kind Dining® coaching program to train newly hired food servers, their employment is more likely to be permanent. Studies show that employees who know their jobs well know they are valued by the company and know the residents appreciate their work, they tend to stay with that community. It is a win-win situation for everyone when professional training has been given. Turnovers of employees are costly and cause discomposure to senior residents. They are more content with familiar faces than a constant stream of newbies passing through.

Food servers’ responsibility is still complex even when entering one room at a time rather than a communal dining room. Residents who know their food servers by sight and by name are reassured of their safety. Social graces and etiquette are still expected. A bit of conversation while the food server brings a tray to a resident in lockdown is comforting and fills a small social span that is missed with communal dining at a standstill. It is a universal hospitality-language that breaks through all barriers, all ages, both genders, and all cultures. Remember that even now, as a food server, when you enter residents’ rooms, you are entering their home. That deserves respect and the quality of service they paid for when they chose your community to be home.

COVID-19 has changed dining practices in the nursing homes and assisted living communities but the performance expected from food servers remains the same. The skills learned in Kind Dining® training go with each food server regardless of the routines of mealtime. Residents deserve pleasant, competent, praiseworthy food service that doesn’t reveal the stress that is happening outside their realm. The company that has invested in professional, hands-on training will see their returns over and over again during these unsettling times.


New guidelines: Do old rules apply?

New guidelines: Do old rules apply?

Gail has been a food server in a senior living community for fifteen years. “Our community service team donned masks and closed communal dining early in this pandemic” she reported. “But we still lost some of our food serving team because they were afraid of taking the virus home to their families.”

She went on to comment on how helpful it is to hire food servers with some skills or have in-house courses in place to teach newly hired servers before they even think about picking up a plate. “People don’t realize the skills necessary to have a positive impact on a residents’ dining experience.  Hiring anyone who comes in looking for a job doesn’t work. It is essential to be trained at what we do.”

Food serving teams wearing full personal protective equipment, adhering to intense disinfecting, and physical distancing protocols is the new normal for the foreseeable future. These extraordinary precautions are as fundamental as professionally – trained food servers and will be in force until reliable testing and vaccines are available.

Trained food servers stay on the job because they know how to adapt, take on precautions naturally, and still tend the resident with hospitality. Frequent staff huddles will keep your servers up to date and in touch with any new changes in residents’ status.  The administration must keep the residents and the staff safe while keeping business sustainable. Monthly virtual meetings and frequent communications can reassure the public that your community is still the safe place for the elder in their family.

Kind Dining® training guides you to growing your serving team personally and professionally to impart your community values and standards. Teaching best practices in foodservice, safety, and kindness regardless of it being physically distanced, is still the ideal and training reflects your company’s extended love and care for residents and staff you serve.

Rise to the challenge COVID-19 has placed on the shoulders of every residential and assisted living community by operating from a place of strength and integrity. Be certain all your food serving staff have trained for the highest skills necessary to perform under stressful circumstances wrapped in kindness and consideration. Remember that these are also skills that can be trained to each person you employ.

Teach them to bring warmth to every table. It is needed now more than ever.

Our B♥ Kind® Tip: Can you make mealtimes more satisfying for residents during these extraordinary times?

New guidelines: Do old rules apply?

Do you realize improvement is an ongoing process?

A friend of a friend told me her 12-year-old daughter was creating greeting cards while being at home during the pandemic. She handed them into a local group who were passing them to a local organization. They were creating connections by sending cards, drawings, and notes to Assisted Living and retirement community residents nearby. The mother was delighted to see a positive result from several years of art lessons and she was happy her daughter was engaged in a worthwhile activity.

This sounds much like the program of sending Christmas and Holiday cards to hospitalized Vets in December. Pen Pal relationships are also being formed. These are ways to add some cheer to a senior who is now isolated without the privilege of going into the dining room for meals. It’s an especially nice diversion for those who enjoy reading their mail while they eat their meal. The best way to put this idea into practice is to contact local social organizations. They would be experienced in guidelines and who to contact with retirement and assisted living communities.

Another way to keep spirits from lagging at solo mealtimes is to enlighten residents to virtual tours they can take on their computers or Ipads. Tours of foreign countries, art museums, castles, national parks, etcetera are a few available. Some seniors may not be aware of games for multiple players that connect them with others socially such as Lexulous (Scrabble), Words with Friends, Checkers, Mahjong; the list goes on. FaceTime, Skype, and Zoom will put them in touch for visits with friends and families.

Kind Dining® encourages pursuing ways of keeping isolated seniors’ spirits raised during these difficult times. Some chefs have begun turning their cooking into ‘how-to’ shows and streaming them to residents’ TVs and computers.  It whets appetites and keeps seniors anticipating their next meal. Chefs have also added a little something extra at dinnertime to let the residents know he is thinking about them, knows the stress some suffer, and that their kitchen food servers care.  Some communities have added rolling carts with a bartender visiting each room, ready to make favorite alcoholic drink concoctions before dinnertime to spike appetites for those who indulge. Appetizers are served at the same time.

This is a time when food servers working as a team, being extra cheerful with residents and each other, is vital. It is now that the food serving team in a senior community knows their good hospitality training has paid off.