Tom paused the old footfall game on the TV. “It’s good to be getting back to normal after this last year and a half of Pandemic–caused changes. It feels like little by little we are opening up to life again.”
“I agree with you on that,” said Mike. They both worked in food service, but for different Senior Living communities. “Though I noticed that many of our residents are still shy about coming into the main dining room or even the café. It’s odd how everyone moaned about being isolated, yet now they can socialize again and are hesitant.”
Tom and Mike have been friends for a long time. Mike applied for employment on Tom’s recommendation even though his own community was not hiring at the time. Mike never regretted it since he is a sociable kind of guy, loving the verbal interaction with the residents he served. “At our meeting last week we were instructed to rely on the trust the residents have in us and encourage them to step back into the dining room again. You know how I am with our residents. I’ve already been discussing it with them. Some just need a little reassurance. Others need time to think about it before socially mixing in the dining room or café.”
“We began by offering hot nibbles from the kitchen served from trays circling the room at Happy Hour in the music room. The scent of the food enlivened dull appetites while the piano tinkling favorite old songs relaxed them as they gained confidence in socializing again. Next, we hosted picnics and dinner evenings outdoors on patio settings, this time using a grill to whet appetites. It was a way to cautiously draw people together, but not too close physically. We’re inspiring trust like this football coach does to build a strong team.” Tom pointed to the TV. “People need a bit of coaxing to let their fear fade away.”
Mike continued about his company’s recent meeting. “The residents aren’t the only people needing reassurance. Many of my coworkers are struggling with anxiety. I agree with the boss’s suggestion that communication with each other, especially using humor, helps put the other food servers at ease. We are still a team! We rely on teammates! We need to help each other in addition to helping our residents! At the meeting, the idea of the residents moving at their own pace in their return to normal, applies to us, too.”
Kind Dining♥ training believes in training new, even part-time employees, brush-up training for long-term employees, and discussions among the employees to seek their ideas and suggestions. These sessions make for good team results just like good football coaching.
Tom and Mike agreed that their discussions of new and old ideas in making their jobs better for themselves and their coworkers. They both loved the work they did and were happy to find ways to help their teammates to love their work in the same way.
B♥ Kind ®Tip: Be brave enough to make positive changes.
Mary was talking on her cell phone lamenting to her mother about turning 30 and facing new challenges and changes.
“Hah!” Her mother laughed and wished her a Happy Birthday. They lived on opposite coastlines of the country and couldn’t be together to celebrate. “You have no idea about changes,” she said. “The women moving into our Senior Living Community nowadays have seen changes in their lifetimes! When they were your age they wore stockings with seams up the back, housedresses, and rarely wore slacks. It was a man’s world back in the day. That’s change! At 30 you are still a puppy.”
“Yes, I guess you are right,” Mary replied. “I guess I need to get used to change.”
“Furthermore, this past year and a half have seen many changes here in the Community. We now attend training sessions to keep employees up to date and aware of new routines and ideas. The Pandemic has pushed us into a new awareness of the contact we have with all the older generations that live here. It has encouraged healthy and hospitable changes for the residents and for us food servers, too.”
Mary’s mother went on to tell her daughter about her improved working relationships with coworkers related to directives of culture change. She made the effort to know the residents better through the restrictions that Coronavirus brought on. With determined ‘pay attention discipline and practice, she adjusted easily. New laws and regulations are constantly bringing change. The national movement of culture change is finally transforming services to person-centered and person-directed care. Food serving teams are alerted to the individuality of residents they serve, getting to know them and hearing their requests by offering respect and consideration in their choices. The same consideration and respect are also promoted between coworkers. Helping each other to provide improved service is a goal many have set for themselves and their food serving teams. Setting these goals creates dignity, self-respect, and determination to work better not harder. Kind Dining♥ training inspires food servers to view their responsibilities in a way to give the employees a sense of meaning, significance, and purpose in their work.
A true sense of belonging is created when culture change is honored. This comes to both new and long-time residents and to the administration and staff of all job descriptions. A community where all feel the trust that derides from a bond of belonging builds a community of meaningful involvement, a community that flourishes.
B♥ Kind ®Tip: Learn how culture change is making a difference.
Your employees may not realize it but the attitude they carry as their work responsibilities are being completed sends a message out to everyone who comes anywhere near them. As they go about conducting their duties, residents are exposed to their presence. Think about how a pleasant ‘hello’ or a random grumpy scowl affects you as you walk past someone while you are out shopping. When it happens to a resident within your community it is even more intense in its effect on an older person walking to the dining room. Because this is their home, they want to know, at all times, that they can trust the people around them. This includes everyone who serves their meals and each employee they pass on their way to wherever. Trust must be built on a daily basis, bonding residents with the representatives of the community its employees. If possible, it is more significant after this past time due to COVID-19 when many people were separated by the fear of contagion. The time is now to rebuild the trust needed to restore the comfort zone of being at home in the community.
This same trust between the older people of the community who rely on it also applies to coworkers. Employees knowing trust is there with coworkers puts more effort into their own work. They gladly chip in to help elsewhere when it is needed. This is called teamwork and can be built from day 1 in Kind♥Dining training sessions. Trust is a learned experience that comes with practice and discussion. Even members of your workforce team who have been so dedicated during the pandemic, have also experienced the sorrow of often being alone from that pandemic. They too have lost family and friends to the Coronavirus, finding themselves struggling in their personal lives. Working to rebuild trust in the workplace will help to strengthen their overall health just as it does for the residents in the community they serve. The loss of friendships made in civic groups, church families, and school programs have left many with low spirits. Those losses can be softened by building stronger relationships in the workplace. Lending a hand to help others returns to help them.
A key factor in recovering from the loneliness the Coronavirus forced on our older population is rebuilding trust in those that surround us. In our senior communities, employees, including and especially our food serving teams, can directly help assuage emotional disappointments by small acts of kindness and thoughtfulness. Hospitality and healthcare continue to go hand in hand.
B♥ Kind ®Tip: Through hospitality, you can help build relationships one meal at a time.
It isn’t only a resident that can be a bully! Sometimes a member of the food serving team is a bully and creates difficult problems to overcome. Other members of the team may not want to ‘tattle’ on the person thinking it may reflect badly on them. They may fear losing their own place on the team or face retaliation from the bully. The bully may not even realize they are being a bully. Kind Dining♥ training sessions can alleviate this problem without pointing a finger at one person but by bringing better ways of working into the virtual practice sessions. By introducing everyone on the team to food serving skills, no one will be singled out. It is essential that anyone who carries even just a glass of water to a resident is included as a server and need to attend all training sessions. It is an added way to create a team working toward the same goal and dissolving the problems from anyone who has acted like a bully, even once. Holding open discussions on a regular schedule with the entire serving team and encouraging new ideas from the very people who do the serving, instills leadership qualities and trust in their fellow coworkers including administration.
When one of your servers is a bully it affects more than the rest of the team. Older adults are particularly aware of the atmosphere that exists around the people that are in contact with them when they serve meals three and four times a day. It is easy to spot when someone strays from team goals for whatever reason. Coworkers must leave the problems they have outside work, on the doorstep before they enter the community. There is never a time or situation for them to unload their own difficulties on a resident. This includes any young part-time servers who have a tendency to talk about themselves. It is paramount that they understand and follow that rule. Never. The focus of the food serving team must be person-directed care.
Kind Dining♥ training encourages building friendly relationships with others on the serving teams. Treating each other with respect, extending a helping hand if someone gets behind, or simply sharing uplifting news of the day helps to cement working relationships. It can lighten the load of a sometimes heavy day. It is also a factor in an employee’s looking forward to going to work. Working with nice, kind people makes for a wonderful day!
B♥ Kind ®Tip: Remember to build stronger mealtime relationships with coworkers, too.
Chad was talking to Sherry during their lunch break after a morning training session. “I like this new routine of discussion meetings every week and the training refresher course we’re taking. To be honest with you, I didn’t think I needed it. After all, I waited tables in a fine dining restaurant for five years before I came to the community as a food server. But I like to keep an open mind and was curious to see what was offered in a training session.”
“Well, you are new to us and I see you have adapted easily. I’m glad you came. You are easy to work with, especially when a problem arises. You don’t panic or get upset.”
“Thank you, Sherry. I appreciate your ‘Star of Approval.” Chad flushed and smiled in a teasing way. “I have to tell you that I never thought of striking up a conversation with the residents or creating a bond with them. Formality was encouraged in my restaurant but I enjoy getting to know who I serve. There is so much more to these older adults than I ever dreamed of. They often have great stories once I get them talking. I also never thought of this being their chosen, permanent home. Guess I had in mind that it was like a hospital visit instead. I like knowing I am waiting on them in their home. It makes me feel a bit special.”
“Yes, it’s so much more than delivering a nice plate of food. It really is blending healthcare with hospitality.” Sherry said. “I, too, like the brush-up training sessions. There is so much still to learn and I’ve been working at this community for nine years. Rules change and better practices constantly arise. Plus we have new people move in and also new food servers are hired. Our food serving team is at its best right now. Last year a difficult person was unfortunately hired. She was rude and quite incompetent. I was glad that she didn’t stay long. We do work as a team and help each other when it’s needed. The Pandemic brought out the best in teamwork. We responded to the call. Good training sessions helped to guide us, to work with attentive efficiency-I think it’s called ‘better, not harder and it works for me!”
Kind Dining♥ training sessions, now available remotely, coaches hands’ on training about customer service, culture change, improving the quality of life for residents eating at home, uniquely blending healthcare values and best practices with hospitality values and best practices, for fifteen years now and still going strong.
B♥ Kind ®Tip: Confidence and doing your best are the first steps to loving the work you do!
Helene talked on the phone with her friend Roseanne bringing her up to date on a particular position she applied for in a retirement community in her nearby town. Roseanne had alerted her to the opening.
“I went for my second interview, which was held over lunch in the restaurant in town,” Helene told her. “I’m sure the lunch wasn’t in the community dining room so that they can keep speculations down as much as possible.”
“It sounds promising if you got that far already. How did it go?” Roseanne asked.
“Well, I dressed in my best business suit and arrived early and waited in the foyer area so there would be no chance of missing him. I ordered Shrimp and Avocado Salad which was easy to eat, a medium price, and something I could talk about more and eat less. I was prepared. This second interview made me know that I really want to work in that community. I’m writing a thank you note for the luncheon interview now.”
While Helene was relating the lunch to her friend, Colin discussed what he learned over lunch with his colleague.
“We both know that sharing a meal is bonding. This interview is also more revealing about this person in the setting she will be working in. I noticed that she arrived early and dressed respectfully, which tells me that she is organized. She didn’t order the most expensive item on the menu because it is free (for her), and it didn’t take her long to decide. So she is budget mindful and can make timely decisions. Her manners were impeccable, and she was aware of our waitperson, saying thank you and please.”
Colin was so impressed. He continued. “She spoke clearly and confidently with an instance of how she had solved a problem I mentioned we had faced in our community. Her interpersonal skills are excellent. There is no doubt this candidate is manager material. I can see her working with our foodservice and nursing teams with great success. Oh, I forgot to mention, never once did her cell phone ring or did she check it. I never saw it during our entire hour and a half. I don’t think we will need to be looking for anyone else to fill that position, now or until she retires.”
Knowing what to look for in a candidate when you are hiring for a management position is a key factor in hiring the person who will be part of your food serving team, will encourage food servers to be aware, have the desire to improve their performance, and be part of training sessions. Kind Dining♥ requests management to attend the training sessions for staff and encourages building relationships in your community. The right manager will inspire others around them, including residents and their family members.
B♥ Kind ®Tip: You and your staff have an important role to play in helping residents.