After some fast-paced games of basketball, a shower, and a change of clothes, Matthew and David drove to their favorite Burger, Fries, & Beer Tavern with hearty appetites and a thirst for discussion about the latest news of their long term living communities. With so many senior care communities short-staffed, they had stories to trade with each other.
A spicy aroma filled the air and grumbled their stomachs while waiting for lunch to be served. Matthew began, “We’ve had our first training session with the new, onboarding food servers hired. My supervisor was lucky to find a few candidates since the hiring pool is so sparse now. The pandemic has hit us hard. On the other hand, I’m happy to be getting some guidance on what exactly I am supposed to be doing while filling in as a food server during the lunch hour.”
David, though he worked at a different care community, smiled with understanding. “I think we’re all in the same boat as far as employee shortage goes. What did you think of the new food servers?”
“They were eager to learn,” Matthew replied. “Shy, at first, about speaking up and asking questions. One woman speaks 2 languages and is fast adding English to her list. It isn’t perfect English but much better than my Spanish or Italian, which is nil. She seems to be a natural with serving food basics. I’m surprised at how much I do not know about serving food and its relationship with our residents. I like using this new knowledge, the part about getting to know the residents by name and making small talk. I never thought of that before. I realize with the pandemic and the restrictions on social life, that they truly appreciate some connection to those of us who are part of their daily life. I even like working as part of the food serving team. Kind of like playing on the basketball team, even though I’m only considered temporary. I’m learning quickly.”
“I’m remembering what you tell me and will use it to convince my boss that we need training sessions for all of our food servers, including those pulled from other departments, and the onboarding of new employees,” David said. “We need to hold onto the employees we have instead of always replacing the ones that left. I want to make him realize that. Thanks for sharing your experience.”
Our Kind Dining♥ on demand-eLearning series delivers consistent training and is comprised of 9 training modules divided into 3 sections. Each module varies in length depending on the topic, and it takes 8 hours to complete all 9 sessions. We begin with the Foundation of Service-Modules 1-3, move into the Nuts and Bolts of Service-Modules 4-6, and finish with Polishing Service Modules 7-9. We have seen effective behavior change with ongoing implementation of principles taught and we recommend communities embrace an all-hands-dining or similar approach to dining service. We are committed to helping you keep your food servers and your newly hired employees, as an educated, invested team.
It’s only natural that we think everyone who knows where we work and what we do, knows all about our highs and lows of the workday, during these pandemic times, including our struggles to get things right. Not so! People outside our Long Term Care, Senior Living, and associated communities have no clue about the problems we face and how we work to overcome them to make every resident safe, secure, and happy in their homes. People may read a headline, often one created to draw attention rather than presenting an accurate description of the content that follows. It is vital to reach out to the public to reassure and educate them about the senior and community living options today that are so far removed from the old images of sticking Mom in a ‘rest home.’
Your well-trained and knowledgeable food serving team comes to the rescue again. They have learned from their training about talking to residents to communicate the struggles of the community and the country at present, so they can better understand how it affects them. Now is the time for those same employees to share precisely what senior and long-term care communities are like with the public. Information needs to come from the inside, from people who work in this specialty marketplace, from these dedicated men and women who have the inside track and are willing to share it.
Again, our Kind Dining♥ training series emphasize our philosophy of helping employees (through education and respectful training) to love where they work and the work they do by learning how to work smarter and manage through unprecedented challenges. The results of enjoying their work can easily overflow into the general public, spreading the benefits for Mom or Dad when they choose to live in a senior living community. Social gatherings are ideal places for talking about work when you are enthused about it. Introduce the subject and watch how many ears are eager to hear what it is like in a senior living community. Speaking freely about one’s work or even placing suggestions on social media helps the marketplace and allows the general public to get an inside glimpse of something they may have thought about but never asked questions that linger in their minds.
Our Kind Dining♥ training educates staff, leadership, and ancillary employees across departments on the value of a positive dining experience and how to achieve it at every meal. This education can be shared to alter the public image of an organization. It can begin in a small way and let the thread of interest grow firmly until a more significant number of people have gratefully changed their idea about being food servers in senior living and other long-term care communities. Kind Dining♥ knows when employees are happy with the work they do, proud of the community they come to every workday, and want to share their joy; then Kind Dining♥ has accomplished the service standards they set out from the very beginning.
B♥ Kind Tip: Are your community successes hidden in your employees?
Kelly was so charged about her new idea for the next employee meeting that she could hardly concentrate on a menu choice at their favorite lunch Bistro. “We’ve talked to our residents about being unable to order some foods and stock items right now that aren’t available because of the Covid pandemic. Sharing our difficulties has raised understanding between residents and the company. We employees, especially food servers, have created a noticeable bond of trust. But there is a different side to that which we haven’t discussed. We, as food servers and the other employees, can be very influential in changing the perception the public has, about the long term, assisted living, and retirement communities.”
Colleen, enjoying their monthly lunch date, was intrigued. “What exactly did you have in mind?”
“It is just common sense that we, who work there, know everything about our communities; the benefits to our residents, and the actual enjoyment they get from living with us. The common thought that our communities are a place to stick Mom so she will be out of the family’s way is so opposite, that we need to spread the word about us. Other than talking about our work and community when we are in social situations, we can also spread the word on social media. When we send out glimpses of our family life, we can also mention fun events that our residents enjoyed. I think many people will pay attention because it isn’t paid advertisement.”
“You may have a good idea, Kelly,” Colleen said. “It’s worth mentioning at the meeting as an added indication of how we love what we do for a living. It is like an overflow of goodwill.”
“Yes,” replied Kelly. “If we love working in our community, the people who live there must love it too. It also boasts of the results of good training. We’re so lucky our company keeps us up to date on everything to do with our work.”
It is probably natural that people hang onto old, worn-out impressions of what Senior Living, Assisted living, or any long-term care communities are still the same as they were 50 years ago. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Kind Dining♥ training programs educate employees to learn to love the work they do, be up-to-date on today’s community living, and want to spread the good news. Mother Teresa started the “one person at a time” idea. Employees can reach many people by sharing their work experience the same way, i.e., one person at a time. When employees are happy with their work proud of the community, they come to every workday and want to share their joy, encouraging them to spread the word. It would be the most sincere advertising of your community that you could have.
B♥ Kind Tip: Being proud of where you work is a sincere compliment to the company.
A friend recently sent this to me after seeing the body of work curated:
“Researchers have confirmed what parents have known for a long time. Sharing a meal is good for the spirit, the brain, and the health of all family members.” Anne Fishel, Ph.D.
“There is no better classroom than the family table.” Kaye Earle
Internationally acclaimed, award-winning photographer Steve McCurry has published a series of photographs taken of families/friends titled: “The Family Table“. The photos were taken in Michigan, the USA, India, Honduras, Macedonia, Italy, Viet Nam, Lebanon, Hungary, and more.
She immediately thought of me, my Kind Dining♥ beliefs and teachings of bringing warmth to the table where your community residents are gathered for their meals like families. Autumn and winter are even more pronounced times when we get together with friends and family. A time when you want your food serving team to be aware of the importance of their service, the connection of hospitality and healthcare, and to perform at their peak.
Dining is often the deciding factor of clients choosing your community to make their home. It is still your company’s biggest selling point. For this reason alone, it makes training your food serving teams a key point of investment in your organization. The wise decision is to place their training at the top of your budget. Kind Dining♥ interactive training sessions are now available online to help tight budgets make room for them first. It is generally known that newly hired employees choose to stay with the company or seek other employment within the first 3 months of their first day at work. Embracing your food servers from all departments, including any employee who handles food, such as recreation/activity staff, to have confidence in their work, by deserved training, returns positives to the residents, company, community, and to the entire service team. A quick turnover of a new employee, for lack of training, in these days of labor shortages can be devastating to the company and to the other employees who must fill those empty spaces. Isn’t it a smarter decision to lead an employee in the direction of learning to love the work they do, because they know how to do it well?
With Kind Dining♥ training you can guide your employees to continue learning long after their initial orientation. The deeper their education, the more your employees will feel being part of the company, carrying pride in it, loving their responsibilities, and the residents they come to know, respect, and attend.
B♥ Kind Tip: Do your employees know how to perform their responsibilities?