Sally had no idea that within a short period of time she went from being just a food server in a senior living community to be a hero. That’s what COVID-19 did for many faithful employees. Sally never gave it much thought. She just came into work, did her job as best she could, and went home. Now she realized as well as the world does, that she truly is a hero and has been since the first day she came to work. She always enjoyed casual conversation with the residents because she believed since she saw them nearly every day they were a second family. Kindness and consideration were part of her nature. That was why the others on the food serving team were always so happy to see her. Her kindness didn’t stop with the residents. She was that way with everyone. It’s no wonder she became an instant hero as soon as the pandemic began.
Sally was fortunate to have a pleasant, generous nature. Others who don’t have that natural way can learn good manners and how to turn disasters into pleasant encounters through training. The pandemic has changed the routines that were set in place which makes this a perfect time to reorganize and freshen your food service staff. Send your team the message that the administration cares enough to have Kind Dining ♥ training sessions inspire them further. Kindness has been the operative word this past year. Invite this contagious campaign of kindness to continue guiding your staff. The pandemic pulled food service to work together, encourage what was learned under pressure to continue now that we are overcoming the crisis of 2020. Allow your frontline workers to carry the pride earned by moving forward through dark times.
Good coming out of the bad side of the pandemic is the trust that has built up between residents to staff and food service with their coworkers. In this highly emotional time, we needed to lean on each other and develop trust between us. It’s a great plus for any community. With the no-visitor policy, we continue to share a dialogue with the residents creating a bond that wasn’t there before the pandemic hit us. The food service team has had to be prepared and to respond to emergency changes quickly and to adapt to new ways of serving, always keeping the residents’ needs first and foremost in mind.
B♥ Kind ®Tip: Practice your Kind Dining ♥ skills every day; they will soon come naturally!
Alice was walking down the hallway and telling a new coworker that it has been a year that she wasn’t sure the community would get through. ‘Here it is, behind us, and we have overcome some difficult hardships, made tough decisions while keeping the safety and comfort of our senior care community. We were continuing our everyday service in the best way we knew how. Vaccines have been developed and hopefully will allow us to return to our former way of life even though I know life will never be the same.”
“Virtual everything has become the norm. Our residents have even learned how to virtually socialize. Chefs are giving virtual cooking lessons and families are doing virtual visiting. But the best thing that has come out of 2020 is that we have built better relationships among staff.”
There is no doubt that team bonding of the food servers is essential for smooth running mealtimes, even more, when the pandemic changed social dining overnight. The food servers trained as a team quickly adapted to new ways of compensating for the loss of dining room meals. Employees are happier and more content with their work when they are working as part of a team. Contented workers are resilient through trials and remain with the company removing the high turnover that is so costly. Add obvious appreciation by the leadership team that is noticeable and you have a solid foundation of employees serving meals that are keeping residents complacent with the sudden, but safe, changes. A bulletin board displaying thank you cards and notes from the residents about particular food servers who have exceeded expectations compliments notices from leaders and peers for the same attention by team members.
Brief daily meetings between the chefs and food servers regarding up-to-last-minute changes or corrections over morning coffee or snacks keep that sense of bond while it keeps the team members equal and on top of things. Kind Dining♥ training has recommended team practice in a similar idea of the huddle that works in football after the meal. With this communication open and operating smoothly, remind the team to have the same open communication with the residents about what worked well and what could be improved during the meal. The residents will appreciate it even more in their isolation and feel more bonded by being heard. Although the vaccine is becoming available it may take many months before social dining is back in place again.
B♥ Kind ®Tip: Do you find ways to praise co-workers for all they do?
Like never before, teamwork in the Assisted Living and Long-Term Care communities have been vital. The sudden transition of formal dining rooms, cozy corner in-house cafes, and food courts shut down because the pandemic has required food serving teams to make drastic changes to their normal routines and styles of serving meals. It generally takes time and practice to put new ways into place and function properly. The pandemic didn’t allow time and practice. Changes had to be designed, up and running immediately. This major transition was smoother when food servers worked as teammates. Mini meetings kept everyone alert and on track with food servers helping each other as they also comforted residents through the alterations. Some kitchens encouraged their preparation and serving staff to enjoy productive lunches together knowing ideas would be exchanged in between mentions of weddings coming up or babies born to the family. Problems are easily discussed with answers found with the comfort of casual eating.
When coworkers bond as a team they share personal events and stories as friends, not strangers who happen to work in the same company. They recognize the value in each other, reach out to help when needed, and are quick to compliment for thoughtful considerations. Working as a team drastically lowers employee turnover which is costly to the company and creates extra work for those trying to cover for lost employees. Kind Dining♥ suggests you inquire about the value and training of food servers forming relationships with coworkers by working in teams.
Teammates show up for work every day which also helps other food servers from being overworked when trying to get meals delivered on time. These are the heroes of today’s senior living and long-term care communities and need to be recognized for their personal efforts in the face of the coronavirus. Announcement boards hanging in public hallways featuring employee of the week and displaying cards of gratitude from residents who show their appreciation by sending notes or cards to the administration. Leaders know the value of a good employee who goes the extra bit to help a coworker or a resident. There are small ways of showing thanks like sending food servers home with meals packaged up and ready to go. Continue 2021 with a positive outlook and goals for a better year.
B♥ Kind ®Tip: Remember, every member of the team is important for success.
We have a new year to look forward to, carrying the experience of living through an unprecedented year of the pandemic that has not happened before in our lifetime. Many older adults have lived through sorrow and loss and had built resilience to get them through the difficulties we face today. Our senior living communities have changed guidelines and rearranged dependable daily routines to suit the situations they now faced. Caregivers and food servers have stretched their capacity to learn new ways of working smarter to better assist residents in their communities. Year 2020 is behind us and we have managed, not only to survive but progressed our services and move forward to continue improving quality of life and person-centered care.
At Kind Dining♥ our foundation is hospitality is healthcare. Our goal is coaching, teaching ways of giving better service to your community residents, and building food serving teams that serve each other as well. Isolation has been a difficult obstacle to overcome. Food servers have learned to communicate with the residents they serve by opening conversations and becoming a lifeline to the world outside their door. They continue nourishing the mental well-being of those living solo. For some older residents who have been lacking in the digital world, food servers have helped keep their spirits up and kept them in touch with the latest local news. Volunteers have collected and donated Ipads, other technological items, and articles for creative art energies to keep our older adults active. This has been a year of giving and sharing.
Caregivers and food servers have shown a resilient source of strength this past year. They have shown up for work facing the possibility of becoming sick themselves. Yet, they are dedicated to the work they do and the community that appreciates their work and loyalty. Kind Dining♥ has increased its online opportunities to continue helping serving staff to learn how to work smarter and to realize that the kindness they show makes them feel better as they are making others feel better. Vaccines are now on the way although it will take some time to reach everyone. It is a time to feel gratitude for the lessons we have learned, improvements made and the progress accomplished through this pandemic year. While we are still facing difficult times ahead expressing gratitude for what we have survived creates a ripple effect that others will recognize and will respond to with their own gratitude.
B♥ Kind ♥Tip: Commit yourself to great service and gratitude today.
This past year has sent many retirement communities back to square one, unable to utilize the plans of moving forward they had set in place. Finally, there is light ahead that will bring us relief as the vaccines become available. Our resilience and adaptability have carried us through. These vaccines on the way will help many long term care communities to pick up where they were forced to change plans and to begin moving forward again. It will take time for the health crisis to reverse but communities can still set goals and make resolutions for 2021 while the end of COVID 19 comes closer. There is always room for improvement or even goals to keep high standards for your community. It is time to make resolutions for achieving those standards for your residents and the high standards for your serving staff.
One of the ways to move forward is utilizing a Kind Dining♥ training methodology to upgrade the performance of your food serving staff. The individual responses from our training courses have shown that our goals of teaching person-centered care are right on track. The new year will continue to focus on the individual resident and their home in your community and how your food serving staff will show empathy, kindness, and efficiency in their duties. Setting goals now on refreshing your employees’ attention to mindfulness and something as simple as body language is vital to success and the reputation of your community. Including the invisible workforce of volunteers in your training program is investing in the possibility of future employees. At the very least these volunteers are lightening the workload of your serving staff. Help them do it wisely by including them in your training sessions. We caution serving staff and caregivers to be mindful of taking care of themselves both physically and mentally. They cannot contribute to the care of others if they are not healthy and strong enough on their own.
In setting the new year resolutions decide on the first step of quality improvement that is most important to your residents. Purpose and choice are at the center of person-centered planning. When serving staff know the residents’ needs and preferences, they can respond quicker and more efficiently if and when a problem arises. The educated serving staff is a highly claimed asset to the community. Residents build a higher degree of trust and respect for those tending to their care when they feel the care is personal. When a closer relationship has been formed between serving staff and residents, changes can be made appropriately and in a timely response.
B♥ Kind ®Tip: What does person-centered care service feel like to residents?