Do your food servers understand and use empathy?

Do your food servers understand and use empathy?

Being a top-performing food server in a senior care community is complex and challenging at the best of times. During COVID 19 it is so much more. Add being alert to the residents’ emotions, having small chit-chat handy, and being cheerful and making sure they have the resident’s meal correct to the standard usual of being neat, clean, well-spoken, and efficient.

One more skill added to the list is having empathy, the ability for a food server to imagine being in the mindset of the resident they serve.  The resident may be stressed, lonely, feeling isolated, and abandoned. Feeling empathy is a highly desired talent. Kind Dining addresses empathy in training sessions.

Food server-to-resident relationships and server-to-coworker relationships often need a heavy dose of reconnection to company values. Empathy is often listed as a core company value in many senior living communities. Hanging posters to remind staff of these company values is not enough.

Encourage coworkers to see the extra effort their teammates are working under, to lighten the load by giving praise with a positive comment or cheerful, sincere compliment. This is part of building strong coworker relationships by showing empathy. The rapport we extend to each other is often a reflection of company values.

It is the company’s responsibility to hire a sufficient number of serving staff and give them the skills needed to perform at their top level. The administration that is aware of the food servers’ critical obligations can show empathy and extend welcome support. The absence of a server must not affect the quality of service to residents or overburden the other servers.

The team of servers must be allowed to give their top performance. They cannot do that if the community is understaffed. Other staff needs to be willing to fill in as food servers when an emergency arises when too many servers are absent. Other staff skills should be equivalent to the same standard of serving the regular food serving team’s skills. Quality of life and resident satisfaction is always the priority and must never be compromised. Kind Dining training prepares all staff for emergencies when their service is called upon. This level of training for all staff is what creates great companies out of good ones.

When the food serving staff uses their skills, tending to comfort and keeping the residents happy and content, especially under the strain of COVID 19, it is the duty of top-level administration to take note and convey their appreciation to the team. Sincere compliments that excellent service has been noticed is one of the best rewards a high-level administration can give.

Our B Kind® Tip: Remember, just by coming to work today, your food servers make a difference.

Do your food servers understand and use empathy?

Has the New Normal Become Part of Daily Routine of Your Food Servers?

The discussion was all about new words and phrases coming into our language every year. One man was complaining that he couldn’t understand a word his grandson said to him. The other two laughed, agreeing with him in complete understanding. Then the words New Normal were tossed into the discussion along with wearing yoga pants, tee shirts, and pajamas during the day. The other man swore he saw a woman in pajamas in the grocery store. Again they chuckled to see such a sight compared to the times when they were growing up. All agreed nothing was normal anymore as they sat in the park at least 6 feet away from each other.

The New Normal has been around for a while now, though people are certainly comparing it to the Normal they took for granted. Creating a routine for yourself to use every mealtime makes your work go smoothly. I encourage reinforcing trainees, reminding them to introduce themselves to residents coming into your community. Take note of their name and write it down if necessary, making the connection to their room number. Every time you enter their room, use their name, and soon it will come without checking.

Cheerfully describe their meal as you scan the tray to be sure nothing is missing. It’s better to check immediately than need to return with a forgotten item. It’s a good time to chat a bit about community news or tell a story you’ve brought to work with you, allowing a little social time to enhance digestion. Even talking about the weather is an acceptable subject. Social interaction with other residents is sorely missed during this COVID 19 era, making your brief time with the resident even more vital. After delivering to the next resident on your schedule, check back with the last one to ensure all is okay and nothing else is needed.

Kind Dining  teaches that this small amount of attention given by the food serving team members eliminates frustration, isolation, and loneliness while building a feeling of solidarity. The time and attention are greatly appreciated by the residents being served. Residents are as different as snowflakes in winter, so food servers must incorporate being alert and flexible in their care. Their New Normal has taken over and is actually improving their service as they became acutely aware of the older people they are serving.

Our B Kind® Tip: Practice new habits and improvements every day.



Do your food servers understand and use empathy?

Does your food serving team know they are present-day heroes?

It’s harvest time for your food serving team. During these times of COVID 19, they realize the skills learned have been so critical to their work in the community. To harvest their sense of fulfillment and to acknowledge that they are the heroes of today. Is that not enough to feel joyful in the work they do?

If ever they doubted their value as a member of a food serving team, these past several months must be acknowledged and appreciated. Of course, the residents are the first to appreciate and show their pleasure when seeing their food server at the door. Their food server will be bringing news from within the community, maybe some personal or funny story, and relief from boredom, social interaction, and lack of activity. In return, the food server will note the resident’s overall appearance and attitude to see if they need any special attention or help with a problem. 

Food servers are providing health care and hospitality to each resident they serve. Their attitude, professional appearance, serving skills, and smile of acceptance offered are most welcome. This is the joy they offer and spread among the residents. Yes, they have cares and fears of their own, afraid of carrying the coronavirus to their own families. Yet, they are on the job each day accepting their responsibilities seriously, knowing their value, and carrying on because they are needed. Joy is the gift from personal service, knowing the importance of your work, and knowing you perform your work with inner satisfaction.

Kind Dining® still teaches the improvement of the dining experience for the residents in your community. Serving food and the joy of serving at mealtimes is even more meaningful to the residents. It cuts into their solitary times, breaks up the quarantine monotony, and builds the bond between the food server and the resident. A sense of purpose for the food server, which focuses on what matters most, the resident also fulfills the server. In these times of stress and sometimes fear, the food server that sets the ambiance of mealtime and mealtimes are still the significant parts of the day for each resident.

“We know it is the one thing your residents universally value.”

Our B♥ Kind® Tip: Remember your vision to build stronger mealtime relationships. 

Is your food serving team performing beyond their duty?

Is your food serving team performing beyond their duty?

While trying to stay in touch with family, Dina’s niece emailed her at her retirement community, asking if she had been visiting the kids lately. The kids had kids of their own and often held family celebrations or took Dina out to dinner, shopping, or somewhere special for the day. No, Dina told her, if she went to stay with the kids, she would need to be quarantined from the community for two weeks when she returned. Two weeks totally alone was too high a price to pay for one night out for dinner. Also, she wouldn’t want to be the cause of possibly bringing the coronavirus into the community. At least she had Facetime, Zoom, email, and the staff’s camaraderie to keep her from feeling abandoned. She remarked how appreciative she was that one of her food servers, in particular, was one of those people who could never say ‘hello.’ She always had a funny story or a bit of gossipy news to share.  She continued to say, “You have no idea how important this one person is to me. She spreads joy wherever she goes. I know because I asked others in the community who are friends with me. They agree.” 

Spreading joy, like Johnny Appleseed, freely spread his chance to grow new trees, during the time of this pandemic is not necessarily an easy one. Food servers are especially carrying a big responsibility along with the trays they carry. They, too, are concerned not to bring a virus home to their families. They, too, are covering the work to be done on days when they are short-handed, worried that a coworker staying home doesn’t mean they have contracted the virus. They, too, are still feeling the joy of helping when help is needed. They, too, are health care professionals doing their share of work while maintaining conversations with the older people they serve to wipe away fears, loneliness, and boredom.

Kind Dining® will be unveiling an exciting new updated and expanded training series via an on-line format that will be available very soon,  giving food serving workers even more tools needed to perform at their finest in these times when health care professionals come in the form of a food server.

The professional reports for work whether quarantines are in effect or not. They achieve joy in their work and share that joy with each person they meet in the community because they know how critical it is and how their presence on the job is meaningful. Food serving teams are formed to bolster each other, ease the stress they are all carrying, make their work easier, do what teammates do, and supply service beyond their duty.

Our B♥ Kind® Tip: Your food serving team has a critical role to play in helping residents overcome loneliness and isolation.

Do your food servers understand and use empathy?

Is your community restructuring to keep up with modern times?

Supportive staff administration, especially your food serving team, is the keyword in successfully Senior Living (SL), Rehabilitation Centers, and Long Term Care (LTC) communities. Kind Dining® strongly urges that an organized environment creates a comforting sense of a home feeling for residents, eliminating the old institutional appearances and habits. Teaching an adequate food serving team the skills and connections of hospitality to healthcare is imperative to a successfully managed community. Training, along with the empowerment and support for front-line workers, are parts that make a community whole.

People retain the right to respect, value, and honor due to every unique individual regardless of age or infirmity. Your food serving team needs to recognize and attend those rights and be willing to give them freely as they perform their duties in a friendly, familiar way.  Kind Dining® teaches how your food serving team can include simple, efficient manners that will make residents happy to see them come through the door. The serving team will enjoy their work as a result. Allowing a resident to make choices, offer opinions, suggestions, and build nurturing relationships benefits everyone. It blossoms social friendships, reduces isolation, loneliness, and depression. Often small adjustments in routine can improve the physical and emotional craving with a seemingly little additional responsibility to your food server.

A Kind Dining® training session for your food serving staff will build communication, trust, and supportive partnerships among serving staff, learning how to help each other and how it benefits residents. They will learn about empowerment, input in scheduled meetings, offering ideas, suggestions, and being a progressive part of the organization. Now is a perfect time to restructure your community from the inside out since COVID -19 has forced changes already. It is a time to recognize the diversity, lifestyles, and personal needs of residents going through many personal changes of their own. Each resident must receive the same level of service regardless of their ability to communicate. It is the food server’s responsibility to evaluate and respond in giving the best service possible to the resident if communication is inadequate.

Ongoing education is the answer to changes in the Senior Living and Long Term Care communities of today. Leave behind the old ways of tolerance and incompetence in foodservice. It is more efficient to educate with training sessions than to terminate food servers who don’t stand up to your company’s goals while moving ahead.

Our B♥ Kind® Tip: Remember, everyone is unique, valuable, and worthy of respect

Do your food servers understand and use empathy?

Do your food servers realize the anxiety a person feels when changing their lifestyle?

The story came to me about two friends discussing his time in a Long Term Care facility. She came to visit and asked about his experience so far since he had not been there very long. He didn’t mention any medical routines performed each day.  He talked about the way everyone went out of their way to care for him, including the food servers. They treated him as if he were special, he wasn’t just another room occupied. He really looked forward to mealtimes as a break in his monotonous routine and for the conviviality of those who brought his meals. “Can you believe, they ask about me, what I’ve done in life, what hobbies I enjoy doing and even want my opinions! One of the servers, Ben, is a soccer fan. What a surprise that was! We really had a good gab session about sports. You can put your mind at rest. I’ve chosen the right place for me.” he told her.

The serving staff brought smiles to his face, made him comfortable emotionally, and feel assured that he had chosen the right place. Fancy décor, expensive furnishings, and attractive landscaping are nice but it is the investment in highly trained staff, including the food serving team that is linked to the quality of life a resident deserves.

Emotions and stress run high when people are entering a new phase of their life. It’s hospitality as health care that makes the impression needed at that time. When asking someone to recount in 30 seconds their experience in a restaurant, a rest home, LTC facility, or even a hospital, they will tell you of how they felt, how connecting to staff comforted and relaxed them in a strange situation. It is what stays with a person. Kind Dining® we focus on the individual nutritional health and well being and the unique care the whole person needs. We teach your food servers to be aware of how important their social skills are when they are serving meals, especially in today’s situation of quarantines and lock-downs. The crossroads of hospitality to healthcare offers the residents a quality of life, keeping your front line workers in touch with your residents’ everyday life, and raising the standard of their quality of care.

Our B♥ Kind® Tip: Management that trains, empowers, and supports frontline workers, is the foundation of a solid community.