Alice’s eyes fell on her daughter’s open book that showed a lovely picture of a butterfly with the caption commenting about the butterfly effect. It stated the theory that a butterfly gently flapping his wings can cause a typhoon halfway around the world. Hmm. She immediately thought about the last idea session at the retirement community where she was a food server for the last five years. She recalled that they talked about person-centered care about food servers incorporating small ways in their daily service that would make a major difference to the older adults in the community.
She thought about applying this theory to her work performance, take notes to see how much of a difference it made, and report it at their next meeting. She would enjoy discussing this with the team because their leadership encouraged ways to improve the quality of life for their residents and support the foodservice team. Alice knew the emotional level many of the older adults she served were highly sensitive in this past pandemic year. She had already extended consideration sensitivity to those who seemed to need it more than others. Now she would be aware of all she served and seek where they may need attention but haven’t asked for it. She later reported to her discussion group at the meeting. The butterfly theory worked! Small things can have an impact on complex situations!
The Kind Dining♥ training sessions have long been focusing on person-centered care. Our core value has been including civility, courtesy, and caring as a natural, easy part of a food server’s day with older adults and with coworkers, too. With practice, this new positive attitude becomes a part of who the person is every day. Our sessions are interactive, so your food serving team can get the physical feeling of what is needed and expected. We encourage sharing responsibilities in helping your coworkers and seeking improving ways of implementing your work.
There were movements of change in our industry before the pandemic arrived. COVID 19 just made changes take place immediately. It pointed out the necessity of person-centered care. It also brought out the best in people working in the service industry that held our older adult communities together during this crisis. Kind Dining♥ believes that once learned, good training stays with a person forever, becoming a part of who they are through practice. It’s an investment the company will benefit from, as long as good food servers are needed, whether they are food servers who serve meals daily or ancillary staff from various departments just filling in when required.
B♥ Kind ®Tip: With Kind♥ Dining service, be brave enough to make positive changes.
This past year the coronavirus took over, changed our lives and the way food servers perform their daily work. These food servers became heroes overnight along with many others in service positions. Knowing the importance of their presence in the community they didn’t stay home, call in sick or whine about long hours on the job. Food servers took ownership of their posts, accepted the additional responsibilities, and changed their routines and schedules to benefit the residents in the retirement and long-term care communities. When coworkers needed help, they were there to pitch in to keep the preparation and flow of meals being delivered to residents in their rooms. They gave extra time to communicate with those residents, reassuring them with personally carried local news, keeping them in the loop so they would not feel too isolated until new programs were set up to divulge information. The food serving teams spread kindness wherever they happened to be. Well-trained food servers easily adjusted to new roles as they carried positive thoughts and uplifted behavior with their presence.
At Kind Dining♥ we know the value of well-trained food servers and the difference they make in a community. Good manners are basic to many of us but not to all. Some people need to be coached to set higher standards for themselves and be awakened to how kindness is given, spreads to create a happy atmosphere in the saddest situations. Patience for a senior, whose meds may be off or maybe struggling with aging, can be incorporated into one’s education. Learning how to assess a bullying situation and how to defuse it are all part of a trained food server’s knowledge. They know how to stop, look, listen and they have been brave enough to take on new challenges to attain a higher goal they have set for themselves through practice. Loving what they do has come to them with the assurance that they matter, to the residents, to the community, to their coworkers, and to themselves. Strong mealtime relationships with the seniors they serve and the food serving teams they are a part of, reflect on the community as a whole bringing recommendations to friends and families that your community is where they want to live.
Growth comes from forward-thinking leaders who are willing to put forth the effort of change even in the challenging, historical times we have managed to survive and actually improved on.
B♥ Kind ®Tip: You can take a leadership role by setting a good example today.
“It’s true that when I witness a random act of kindness, I smile, no matter how upset or sorrowful I happen to be at the time. It is so much more than it appears to be. It’s like there is a place deep inside where we hold this sack of kindness and when it is needed, we reach in, pull it out, and make someone’s life better. Not only the person we extend the kindness to but anyone who happens to see it and it makes us happier, too. How could I not feel better giving someone else a bit of joy?” Lisa was talking with Trish whose grandmother lives in the retirement community where Lisa is a food server.
Trish has been concerned about her grandmother being in quarantine when she was used to their big family gatherings. Lisa reassured her by explaining part of what she does on a daily basis. All of us food servers have made the effort to get to know those we serve on a personal level so we can ask ‘How is your granddaughter Trish doing?’ Laughing at the example she used, she continued to reassure Trish that there was no need for concern.
“In our community, all staff has attended the Kind Dining♥ training program that showed us what a difference we make by reaching out in a personal way, doing random acts of kindness, and being in the present moment with the seniors we serve. It is part of our job and it comes naturally, after some practicing following our training, and later in our discussion meetings. I’ve come to know the seniors in my sections of service really well. They have become a little like grandparents to me. By the way, that fills a spot in me because my grandparents have all passed away. So, it’s truly a give-and-take situation. Mealtimes have always been a social time for the residents. I like to think that we keep it social in our own way. We are there to bring their meals, to listen, and to help in any way we can. Yet, it is so much more than just bringing in a tray of food or delivering packaged meals that can be eaten right away or reheated later. Between meals, we also visit with snack carts. So, you see Trish, we share time with our seniors several times a day. I think our time (and training) makes a positive difference in our community.”
B♥ Kind ®Tip: Food servers have many opportunities to perform random acts of kindness.
Mary was new to this senior long-term living community. Susan recognized that and struck up a conversation with her as they filled lunch carts to deliver to residents. Susan asked how she came to work here as a food server.
“I worked at a different facility for five years,” Mary said, “and I wasn’t happy there anymore. A new food server was a bully, caused problems between long-time coworkers in foodservice. The new administration wouldn’t correct the situation even though it was brought to their attention. My friend Betty has been boasting about how good it is to work here for a long time and encouraged me to apply for a job. I was nervous about coming to a new place and learning new ways, but I am so glad that I did and I’ve only been here for a couple of weeks. What a difference!”
“Have there been other differences?” asked Susan, curious to know what it was like in other communities. She had worked only at this one, was content, and had no reason to leave.”
“Well, to start with, if we had been caught talking like this, we would have been called into the office for a reprimand for wasting time. Talking with other food servers was discouraged. ”
Susan laughed. “But we aren’t wasting time, we’re still working. Besides we are encouraged to know each other and to ask for help if we need it. We work together and depend on each other. Remember to also get to know the residents you serve. They like knowing who is bringing their meals and are more comfortable asking for help when they need it. When they are happy, we are happy. It makes for a better place to work.
“We also have a great administrative staff that jumps in to help serve meals when schedules are tight.” Susan continued. “Our Kind Dining ♥ training taught us that if we have a problem that needs solving, we can bring it to our meetings. We discuss problems with the administrative staff that attend, too. We work as teams here. It makes a big difference.”
Food servers, as well as other employees, stay on the job when they like who they work with, when they can count on their coworkers to work as a team and when there is a way of solving problems that arise in a working day. Employees look forward to going to work when they know their fellow workers are teammates.
B♥ Kind ®Tip: When it comes to Kind Dining♥ service, we can all be leaders.
Customer-first policy is a result of solid, forward-thinking leadership that filters down from a confident administrative staff. A manager who serves meals on a holiday shift so a food server can have the day with her family creates a loyal team member. That server carries that respect to the residents she serves. When information from a resident is carried on to a staff member that needs to know, this is a food server who actually listens when residents talk with her. That is blending hospitality with healthcare which is a major ingredient in daily living in a senior care community. Listening is another skill of the food server that isn’t always mentioned at the time of hiring but is an important skill. In training, a food server learns what her responsibilities are and good leadership encourages her to expand on those responsibilities.
When food serving staff become familiar with the residents they are serving, they also develop empathy, coming to understand the life of being an older adult. Aging can be difficult for many who are facing new trials in health on a daily basis. Enhanced relationships result from a customer service-oriented dining team creating a relaxed atmosphere in a COVID19 air of tension. A culture of service is food as medicine, mixing hospitality with healthcare.
Good leadership is not seen directly. It is seen when watching a food server make a necessary decision without seeking permission first. It is seen in discussions at company meetings where new ideas that come from those who have hands-on-the-work are listened to and acted on. It is seen when serving staff take ownership of their positions and develop pride in the work they do. Good leadership is applauding food servers when they reach for higher standards in their work.
Kind Dining♥ training series and workshops were developed from my formal education but also from first-hand knowledge of being on the job for many years and seeing what was needed most in senior care communities. Good training of food servers is an investment for a company that knows that its’ best assets and marketing tools are the positive one-on-one interactions between food serving employees with residents, and foodservice and nursing teams in their community.
B♥ Kind ®Tip: Take a leadership role by setting a good example today.