A friend of mine who lives alone and enjoys her own company often dines out on her own. She says, shamelessly, that she eavesdrops on other conversations going on around her. People carelessly reveal quite a bit over a lunch or dinner table.
Recently she heard a woman in a blue flowered dress say, “I am so glad we placed Mother in the retirement community in the next town over! I was so worried that she might think I was pushing her just to make it more convenient for me. It turns out to be the best possible decision we’ve ever made! She no longer has to be weighed down by that big, old, farmhouse that took all her energy. Now she made lots of new friends, socializes, joins in on all the activities, and wonders why she didn’t do this after Dad died 8 years ago. She loves her modern, cheerful, little apartment that is a breeze to live in. It’s such a relief!”
Her friend in a gray business suit wasn’t about to let her off that easy. She flatly stated, “That all sounds nice but what about the food. Those places are notorious for serving bland food that isn’t worth putting into your mouth.”
“Quite the opposite,” the woman replied. “Mother was raving about the food. That surprised me since she is such a good cook herself. So we intentionally joined her for dinner to make sure she wasn’t just trying to make us feel better. Not only did the food taste great but there were varied selections on the menu and the dining room was charming! The server behaved like family. She called Mother by name and took the time to be introduced to us. It was like dining out in a 5-star restaurant. They also have a bistro and a take-out stand.”
My friend knew I would want to hear any conversation about senior living communities and especially about the food and service. It pleases me to hear good training is being received.
Kind Dining♥ training courses are now offered in 9 modules divided into 3 sections of 3 modules each. The experience of dining in any senior living community is the company’s most valuable asset. Your food serving team can learn the skills needed, attitude changes from negative to positive, and build relationships within the community. Your employees caring about the residents receiving quality healthcare, complemented by quality hospitality are goals that can be reached with training sessions and practice. Knowledge is empowerment and creates the leadership you want in your employees. Good training leads them to love what they do and where they do it! The community is proud.
B♥ Kind Tip: Food servers are important to the company; how they serve meals MATTERS!
Remember the time when you were out for a special occasion dinner in a charming restaurant where the food was all it was promised to be? And then the entire mealtime was ruined because the waiter was in a bad mood and you left the restaurant feeling that you wasted hard-earned money and your celebration went sour? The memory you carried away with you was a bad service. The exceptional food memory was nearly forgotten. That incident shows you the importance of food service skills in your community. No matter how superb the food is, if the service is lacking, the meal is nearly worthless.
When you listen to the residents in your community, you learn the importance of the mealtime experience to them. It’s part of their social plan for the day. They anticipate mealtimes by attending to their appearance and readying themselves for discussions and sharing the latest news. It is vital that your residents’ anticipation be fulfilled. Skilled food servers will sincerely greet all diners with a smile, recognition of their name, words of welcome, knowledge of the day’s menu, and be prepared to offer suggestions if they are asked for them.
If the company has not provided good training and practice sessions, your food serving team may be performing far below par. They are the company’s best assets . . . or greatest liabilities. Not everyone is born with the skills desired for food serving kindness. Learning these skills will also change negative attitudes to positive ones. With the self-assurance of doing an excellent job at work, comes the confidence to take individual initiative, to carry team spirit, to feel self-respect, and extend that respect to others. You can even add love to that list. It comes from a feeling of self-worth and a desire to share it.
Kind Dining♥ training was designed to assist you in honing the skills of all your employees, in building communication between coworkers, residents, and management, using cross-training exercises. These training sessions, now available online/on-demand, focus on working smarter. They are enjoyable and build the confidence necessary for success. This success changes negative attitudes to employees loving to go to work, sharing responsibilities with their coworkers, and extending kindness to all persons. This success creates a casual chit-chat with residents that they find comforting and reassuring. This success includes the confidence to respond to the emotional situations that may arise with residents. Take a long look at staff serving meals (from all departments) in your community and realize how important your food serving teams are to your residents and the success of your company.
B♥ Kind Tip: You have the power to make a big difference to everyone’s satisfaction!
“Well, have you worn your thinking cap this past month?” Colleen asked. “I’m anxious to hear what suggestions you’ve come up with for the holiday preparation meeting.”
Colleen and Kelly were having their monthly lunch together enjoying waitpersons attending to them as they waited on residents at the senior living community where they worked. They were always alert to good service, or bad, to note comparison to the service they gave. This day was a bit different at this friendly bistro where they felt welcomed every time they came.
“Yes, I have some great, easy ideas for us all to do!” Kelly looked up to her mentor. “We’re always encouraging the food serving staff to talk with the residents. The perfect opener that is super easy, even for our ‘quieter’ servers, is to ask the residents what were their fondest holiday traditions? Also, did they ever have holidays when everything seemed to go wrong? Usually, those stories are remembered in detail! ”
“Good thinking, Kelly!” Colleen replied. ”Since I’m serving food, every year I love to ask them what their favorite foods were to cook or to eat. Sometimes they even had a table set in a particular way. They really enjoy talking about those memories they’ve piled up over the years. If the conversation lags, I add the question of holiday music and movies. Everybody has a special one to tell you about. That question gets the most reluctant person to talk. When they reply, I see the joy in their eyes. It’s wonderful for them and for me!”
“We also talk about changes from other holidays. There are many comments with this coronavirus we’ve tolerated these last two years.” Colleen has several years of serving food in this community. She enjoys sharing her experiences with Kelly since it is her first holiday working here. “Some older adults struggle with the blues at holiday time, so I cheer them in any way I can. At our employee meeting this week I’m going to suggest we each pin an artificial poinsettia on our uniform or maybe a Santa or snowman pin. Something jolly. It helps. We usually place a candy cane at the place setting on Christmas Day too, for all those who are not diabetic. They get sugarless ones.”
For anyone listening in, as often happens in a bistro or restaurant, it was simple to know that these two women, different in ages, really loved their jobs. Kind Dining♥ wants everyone to feel that way about the work they do. That is only one of the reasons why Kind Dining♥ sessions are so important to your community. It’s easier to love your job when you know the best way to do it, feel confident in your work, share great relationships with those you serve, and also with your coworkers. It is a win-win situation coming from knowledge and practice.
B♥ Kind Tip: Food servers have the power to bring holiday joy to every community elder!
The holiday season is an emotional time that can be changed from having the blues and missing particular loved ones, to the idea of forming new traditions, adding new friends to your Christmas list. Very often it is a matter of suggestion and that is where your food serving team steps in. Through casual conversation, your server may open a chat with a simple “what were the favorite parts of your past holiday seasons? Did you do the cooking, if so what favorites were on your table?. .and who were they for?” Remembering and talking about the people your elder’s miss can bring smiles to their faces when they begin talking. Be gentle. Actively listen so you can reply with intelligence.
Start a trend and have all your food serving team wear the color red on a particular day. A scarf, an indoor hat, maybe a Santa or elf hat, a wide belt, or a red, lacy hankie pinned to the uniform will work. During the month of December, they can add a Santa, candy cane, Christmas tree, poinsettia, or other fun pins to their uniform every day.
A hot chocolate station set up in an alcove or activity room with Christmas cookies will encourage cheerful stories of other holidays long passed. Remember to offer sugarless for diabetic older adults. It’s the time of year for social gatherings and meeting new folks to talk with all year long.
If possible, set up a Gingerbread House competition in the activity room. Spread supplies over a table and let the fun begin! The winner has their picture placed on the News Board in the lobby until the end of the year!
A Santa Hat Luncheon can be arranged where everyone who comes into the dining room wears a Santa hat. Be sure to take lots of photos! They will create happy memories that can be joyful all year through. A simple, card and candy cane put next to the place settings makes a personal touch and shows that you have empathy. This small item adds hospitality to healthcare that is vital on holidays.
When family or friends ask for ideas on what gifts to give to their friends now living in much smaller apartments or independent rooms, suggest a book possibly signed by a local author, a magazine subscription, gift certificates, or favorite holiday foods such as homemade specialty cakes, cookies, jams, and items that won’t be coming from the community kitchen.
Kind Dining♥ teaches your food serving team, and that includes each person who delivers a beverage or meal, even if only to help fill a shortage of servers, to become part of the holiday spirit by joining in with the elders in your community. That means opening a conversation with a holiday memory of their own and participating in the extra additions that bring joy to the most important people in your community…your residents.
B ♥ Kind Tip: Mealtime means much more than food to your residents.
What can you do when the entire industry has been affected by the pandemic? It is vital to help residents understand why you may not fulfill every request they have at the present time. Residents really have no idea about the inner workings of your foodservice team. Neither do they realize that you have suppliers who also have a shortage of supplies, employees, and delivery drivers? Through good training sessions, your food servers know how to start up conversations with the residents while serving meals. It’s a good time for them to discuss with knowledge and confidence the shortages of supplies as well as staff. Volunteers may emerge from those conversations especially from those who have retired from the food industry and know exactly what difficulties you are facing.
The friendships your food servers have intentionally built with your residents are now the perfect way to stimulate their thinking about the problems the pandemic has caused. They will be happy to know about current events and viewpoints other than their own. Knowing others have volunteered for a temporary time may encourage them to also offer their services. Volunteering is a welcome and rewarding experience that benefits residents, staff, and the community. It helps to relieve the stress of a staff member doing the small jobs that take time to perform when employees are short-staffed. It boosts the spirit of the volunteer and enables them to meet new acquaintances. Relationships nurture good health and hospitality is pure enjoyment. These connections may spur the desire to leave the comfort of their rooms and mingle with others again.
Kind Dining♥ training, now available online, can transform food serving teams into leaders, show them how to build trust and heal broken relationships within the community. Making significant improvements in attitudes in your food serving staff increases meal revenues from family and guests and resident satisfaction. Simply adopting kindness to the persona of each employee in virtual practice sessions will introduce harmony to the daily work shift. Practicing serving skills includes everyone and avoids pointing a finger or weakness that may embarrass a worker. The training sessions are about building teams with positive thoughts and actions. It’s about working efficiently, intelligently, and solving problems not by finding fault but by finding a better way. Kind Dining♥ builds relationships around the table. Does your food serving staff do the same?
B♥ Kind Tip: Practice your Kind Dining♥ skills every day; they will soon come naturally!
Colleen and Kelly kept their usual lunch date to discuss the upcoming employee meeting in their senior living community. So many changes have taken place over the last two years that they like to stay aware of them. They also enjoy contributing new ideas to help their workplace run even more smoothly. At the present moment, they are working with less than a full food serving staff while the human resources department interviews new applicants. They have built a personal friendship out of Colleen’s mentoring Kelly on the job they both love doing. Both also firmly believe hospitality compliments, healthcare, and go hand in hand.
“I like this new menu. It has several additions that are interesting,” Kelly said. “Maybe I’ll take note and slip it to our chef. He may appreciate the suggestions for our Bistro or wherever he wants to add them. At the least, he’ll know we are thinking of him while eating somewhere else.” She chuckled as she spoke the words, knowing he would accept it as being helpful, not critical.
Colleen agreed. “Good idea Kelly. Yes, do that. He knows we’re on the same team, working toward the same goal. Every little bit helps. He’s relieved too, that our residents understand about some shortages that happen in our deliveries. I’ve explained it a few times when women complained. They just had no idea that some items are still scarce to get until our supply companies are fully staffed. The entire industry has suffered losses.
“At the meeting, I’ll mention that Ms. Johnson and her friend Ms. Davis have volunteered to come in 3 days a week for an hour or two in the morning to fold napkins and set tables. They both retired from the restaurant field and are happy to give a helping hand. They already have 3 days covered by Ms. Jenkins doing the same thing. Sherry told me that she’s accepted an offer from Ms. Williams to assist her in entertainment. She’s retired from a college art department still full of ideas for art projects. We work in a great community!”
Communication is imperative for building relationships. When residents understand the enormous effort the company and staff are facing, it changes attitudes. Understanding pulls all facets together for a full picture. Kind Dining♥ training courses were designed from understanding the best parts of hospitality, and dining service and crafting our unique hospitality brand, which connects with and supports the best parts of culture change and healthcare. Hiring challenges are leveled with interactive training sessions and practice. Strategic communication between staff and residents is emphasized. Kind Dining♥ training was created for the well-being of others.
B♥ Kind Tip: Your staff has an important role to play in helping residents understand the Covid challenge to the community’s services.