Helen started working summers and school holiday vacation times in a senior living community while she was in high school. She realized that she not only enjoyed working with older adults but had a natural vocation for this type of work. After graduating high school, she furthered her schooling in spurts since she didn’t have the finances to attend higher education full time. In time her dream of degrees in gerontology faded because life got in the way. She also knew the natural beauty of youth was fading, and she wasn’t sure what to do about that either. One day she came across an article in a magazine that mentioned having a makeover. That was it, she thought to herself. Time for a complete re-do!
And she did invest in a physical makeover altering her thoughts about her appearance. Next, she spoke up at the meeting the staff held each month in her senior living community. After telling everyone about her makeover refreshing her self-image, she suggested they do the same for all of the staff regarding their work. It was time for some fresh training sessions to bring them up to date on new rules and regulations and maybe improve their work performance. She believed it would help newer, inexperienced members of the food serving team and bring additional life to those who had been on the job for a long time. It’s time for the company to show how they value us by investing in the further education of our food serving skills. Every one of us on the staff has performed as food servers even if we do not serve meals daily.
Investing in a remote Kind Dining♥ training and coaching program is what Helen had in mind. While having lunch with a friend recently, who is also a food server but in a different community, their conversation slipped into their work, as it often happens. She liked the idea of interaction and practice, not just lectures that her friend described to her. She said it was essential that we understand our role in being a vital part of the community on the food serving team. Our courtesy, social skills, and proper serving techniques make a big difference. They matter! Residents expect it, and we want to keep our residents happy. Her friend called them the secret to success, reminding her that the books on service standards in the dining area do not mention this part of being a top-notch food server. Federal guidelines and state regulations don’t suggest courtesy or positive attitudes either. Helen learned a lot from her lunch companion and looked forward to the Kind Dining sessions she convinced her boss to invest in.
B♥ Kind ®Tip: Is there a new food server on staff that needs a helping hand?
These pandemic times have, more than ever, taught us that it takes extended skill in a good food server to give the body the nutrition it needs and craves to create a whole, healthy person. The server’s job encompasses bringing a meal to a person along with a smile, saying hello, how are you, tell me what’s on your mind today and have I told you….. These pleasantries feed a person, too. When food servers feel valued, appreciated by the administration and their coworkers and keep a calm demeanor because they do, they can naturally carry this relaxed, considerate, and kind ambiance. It is part of them, and they share this confidence with everyone they meet. This is not a temperament one is born with but has evolved into over years of growing. If a food server doesn’t have this way about them, it can be developed (you’ll be happy to know) with proper Kind Dining♥ coaching sessions now available by virtual accession. Residents that have chosen your community to live in desire nutritional health, wellbeing, and quality of life. Wouldn’t you be content if your food servers can give them emotional nutrition without added investment other than the training all food servers deserve?
Your food servers who have easily learned these skills through our training sessions and practice can display their leadership qualities by assisting other food servers which may need extra encouragement. This is a basic kindness that displays how kindness can form respectful relationships between coworkers and build a solid foundation of trust. This is the ideal working ambiance that everyone blossoms under. Kindness is something many of us take for granted, but others have never become aware of a lack of guidance as a child. This, too, can be taught to anyone at any age.
In this pandemic, we are all doing our best, not only to survive but to lift others. We want to inspire food servers to combat fear, overwhelmed feelings, loss of control, and disconnection with residents. Their expectations have far exceeded being served good food by a pleasant food server. They are your residents. Don’t they deserve the best you can provide for them? Your food serving team is your company’s most valuable asset, and mealtimes are still extraordinary opportunities to triumph at person-centered care. It is a time to impress yet make that impression daily. Your staff may not instinctively have an etiquette or be aware of how they can improve their work performance and lift their own self-value at the same time.
B♥ Kind ®Tip: Stop. Look. Listen. What does good service feel like to residents?
Read, read, reading everything that comes into view that demands my attention, and that was how I discovered the term emotional nutrition in the New York Times column of David Brooks. Ah, I am overly delighted that someone else knows what I have been teaching and persuading others to refine in senior retirement, assisted living, and other long-term care communities. Perhaps it has been the coronavirus pandemic that brought it to the attention of this noted writer. Still, I want every one of those communities across the country to be aware of emotional nutrition and that they can digest it easier than imagined with some basic training.
Agreed, emotional nutrition is about the loneliness many people have developed during this past year of quarantine. In particular, people in these communities have severely experienced staff absence, the loss of family visits, and mealtimes gathered around the dining table with longtime friends and newly met acquaintances. Our Kind Dining♥ training sessions had addressed this malady long before anyone heard of the coronavirus or the pandemic it caused. Turning around much of that loneliness through the everyday performance of the food serving team is my goal in teaching them a better way and how to do it easily. The food servers who want to improve their daily service through training and practice will find that the people in the community will benefit, but so will they. Adding new skills, such as simply asking and using a resident’s name, improves the relationship between a resident and the food server. It becomes more personal. Add the art of truly listening when that person speaks, and it sends the food server to the head of the class.
Improving service by building a relationship shows that you care and wear away the loneliness a resident may be feeling. Keep in mind that you are serving them in their home, and a person certainly doesn’t want to feel lonely in their own home. When a food server helps a resident lose that lonely feeling, it gives the person a better appetite, decreases unwanted loss of weight and dehydration. Good service incorporates the simple act of hospitality to work for everyone’s satisfaction. The servers, defined as those who bring a meal or solely pours a beverage, perform a complex job. The top servers carry a friendly mood, social graces, etiquette, a knack for creating a relaxed atmosphere for each person they serve. They do it naturally if they have practiced what they learned from Kind Dining♥ hands-on or online training instruction. It will feel as comfortable to them as it does to the person suffering from a lack of emotional nutrition.
B♥ Kind ®Tip: Food servers have the power to make a big difference in resident satisfaction!
Even through today’s mealtimes that are so different from our usual expected normal mealtimes pre-pandemic, your food servers can still provide memorable experiences for the older adults they serve. Food servers will be remembered with gratefulness when they have shown kindness, consideration compatibility, and caring during the recent unstable year. We have managed to live through it in the best way we knew how, by changing routines and serving styles while still building community. Adapting to new ways of serving meals would have come easier to the staff that has had good training. Part of being able to accept sudden changes and showing empathy to the older adults who have been impacted by these changes is part of the skill of an excellent food serving team.
Teaching servers to create an ambiance of genuine hospitality when serving meals can impress caring upon your residents. Now that residents are unable to join their friends in the dining room, they especially look forward to seeing their food servers for a connection to internal news. It is an excellent time for them to form bonds with food servers who may be delivering meals to their doorstep. The food servers’ skill of conversing freely and easily is a beneficial asset to practice. Research shows when residents are highly satisfied with their community dining, overall satisfaction scores rise. Mealtimes are just as important to them during the pandemic though mealtimes have been quite different this past year. Of course, the food itself must be good, but the serving of it is the fancy wrapping of the gift.
Your training program determines your staff’s responses to situations of stress when special skills are called on. Companies set values to direct a clear statement to employees and guide their conduct and attitudes. How food servers treat and respect each other displays how they interact with the residents. Training that does not create excellent performance in your food-serving staff is a waste of time and money. This is the perfect time to add a remote Kind Dining♥ program to your business plan of improving your community’s quality of food service standards. Interactive training builds health and well-being for the staff that inadvertently affects those they serve. Residents that are satisfied do not search for another community, reducing the cost of replacing their empty space. Residents that are content with their community recommend it to others.
B Kind® Tip: Satisfying residents by way of their mealtime experience by utilizing the skills of your servers is achieving the desired goal.
Leah was sitting in a memoir writing class when the instructor said to think back to a moment when you met a turning point in your life. Instantly she thought of the last time her family enjoyed Sunday afternoon dinner together. She was 16 years old, the youngest sibling in her family.
Hear, hear,” Dad said. “I have an important announcement to make. Now that you are all old enough to have other places to be or to go to, we will no longer require you to give up your Sunday afternoons to come home to dinner. It’s Mom’s turn to take the day off or spend them with me wherever we plan to go. It will include dinner out in a restaurant for us.”
She wrote about how much she missed those Sunday afternoon dinners. Although she was a teenager, her time away was not as demanding as her two older brothers and sister. Sure, Mom certainly deserved time to herself or going out with Dad. They did have supper together during the week but there was always someone or two missing from the table for one reason or another. Sundays were special. She missed the conversation, the catch-up of news, and the laughter. Often a guest joined them. Holidays were a replica but it was never the same as those Sunday dinners.
Sharing a meal with family or friends is what older adults have missed the most this past pandemic year. Mainly for the same reasons, the catch-up of news, camaraderie, sharing, and laughter. Of course, the food is an important part of the meal but it isn’t only about the food. When your food serving team is preparing, packing, and again beginning to serve meals under the new guidelines of social distancing, they are a vital part of re-creating those memories for your residents. If they didn’t know before the pandemic, food servers learned their value to their communities in this year of restrictive and sometimes solitary living for residents.
As the creator of Kind Dining♥ coaching sessions, I know the influence a food server has on mealtimes. It is proof of the necessity of good, interactive training where food servers learn the value of serving skills that include attitude, civility, relationship, and the caring that shines through when a food server does it right. Is it any wonder the effect they have on the health and well-being of those older adults.
B♥ Kind ®Tip: How you serve meals makes an impact on an older adult’s day.
Major changes have taken place in all our lives this past pandemic year. Retirement and Long Term Care communities have been hit hard. They needed to make important decisions, extensive changes, and fast. Gathering together at the table with family and friends at mealtimes was the focus of many and was drastically ended. Alternate ways of keeping residents fed, content, and without fear were a challenge for many communities. Strong, informed leadership took charge and smoothed the rough spots as they appeared. Mealtimes were altered to door deliveries, smaller assemblies on each floor served buffet-style, socially distanced, and pick-ups also socially distanced. Foodservice teams were working at peak performance, adapting to different ways of working other than their normal routines. It took firm leadership with forward-thinking ideas on how to redesign food presentations quickly. All this was planned with quality of foodservice provision combined with hospitality.
Staff usually looks to administration for leadership but this pandemic time was a time for every person responsible for foodservice operations, purchasing, preparation, cooking, packing, carrying, and delivering food to have the confidence of making on-the-spot decisions as necessary. That kind of self-confidence is built with Kind Dining♥ training that encourages individuals to broaden their responsibility and accept leadership roles they have learned in active coaching classes. Administrators acknowledge value and respect when they place faith in their food serving team to adjust and react to situations at hand that come up unexpectedly during these pandemic days. The company that has invested in training for all employees who will be called on, when serving staff is short-handed, to deliver at mealtimes, is empowering food servers to create the knowledge that ‘we are all in this together’ sense of community. The training that focuses on breaking down the perceived barriers between servers of different professions, backgrounds, and ethnicities, to create bonds of working relationships, sharing duties and helpfulness is building that self-confidence. When employees have a voice and are inspired to use that voice, they build self-esteem and see their value to the company. Pride in one’s work enters and promotes relationship bonds with the older adults they serve. The pandemic has called on these food servers to use all their hospitality skills along with their serving skills to assist in calming residents whose lives are chaotic and disorganized from the insecurity of COVID 19.
Satisfying residents by way of their mealtime experience by utilizing the skills of your servers is achieving the desired goal.
B♥ Kind ®Tip: Talk and share stories to break up “icebergs” with your coworkers and the older adults you serve.