The story came to me about a couple who needed to resettle into an assisted living community where they could get the best care. Both of them had Alzheimer’s, at the same level of memory loss. Their son was alarmed, knowing that many communities right now are working with reduced staff, fearing that would endanger his parents with exposure to the Covid 19 and its variants. Their daughter did some research and found that long-term living communities are the safer places for their parents, especially now. The community she chose as the most suitable one for them has struggled like most with the pandemic for the last two years. They now have their protections in place, alternative schedules ready to revert to if a new variant is threatening. Their staff has attended recent training sessions that bring them up-to-date with the latest defenses against the Covid virus and its variants. That mention of current training caught her eye, knowing that well-trained staff is most important in times of stress, reduced labor attendance, and threats of any contagious virus. The recent training sessions translated into a reliable team for her. It impressed her.
The daughter spoke to different members of the food serving team at various times, catching them on the fly, asking questions, and seeking on-the-spot answers. She found them caring, competent, and knowledgeable about person-centered attention. She was delighted. This was where her parents would be safest and content. They would receive what they needed, healthcare that came with a good dose of hospitality. Her brother trusted her judgment and her research methods. He was relieved of worries about his father tending to household repairs, sidewalk clearings, and being fearful of his father’s incapability toward household maintenance. The decision was made, and both parents were happily ensconced in the assisted living community, where an entire team was looking after them. They would benefit socially, have primary care close by, and continue to have a meaningful life.
Kind Dining♥ training focuses on and includes servers from nursing/health services, care staff, housekeeping departments, their managers, and full-time food service providers. Residents who experience high-quality food service are overall contented and happy. Mealtimes are still the points of the day they look forward to enjoying. Happy residents draw in other residents. The dining hours are an opportunity to build the community’s reputation. Your food servers are powerful company assets. Build on that thought and invest in your food serving teams for a higher return on each trained food server. Choose the training program designed to assist companies who do not have the time or resources to create their training program—enhancing Senior Living hospitality and healthcare.
B♥ Kind Tip: Does your company lack a good training program for all food servers?
Word came to me by way of a friend who has both parents in an assisted living community for the loss of memory. “In particular,” she said, “seeing the same, familiar faces each day is most important to them. Talking with one of the caregivers who said it is especially critical to dementia, Alzheimer’s and lonely, depressed residents who don’t have family or friends visiting.”
Investing in your employees is an investment in your residents and they are the focus of any long-term residential living community. Using that same investment in skill training for all your employees, noting that today, with staff being short-handed in many communities due to the pandemic, is vital. It is common practice to pull employees from other departments who have never served a meal to assist your more skilled food servers on a part-time basis. Surprise! Serving and delivering food is not as easy as one may expect if it is to be done right. Your residents will notice if it isn’t done right, as they expect and deserve. Having your part-time food servers attend training sessions is necessary for acceptable performance, but keep in mind that it pulls them away from their primary duties.
Another way of increasing enthusiasm in your full-time food serving teams is to evaluate the skills they learn and practice in your training sessions. The more they hone their skills, the more valuable they become. The company can find ways to reward them. A small raise in compensation will still save the company the average of $4,000 it costs to find and hire a new food server that needs to fit into your community if you can find one during these pandemic shortages. Think of the $15,000 loss of revenue if you are losing residents due to poor service.
It is beneficial to some communities that the food serving team speaks more than one language. English may be a second or third language to them but once they learn English, their other languages will be an asset. A class in learning English can even be offered as an investment in your employees.
Kind Dining♥ training sessions are designed for all employees who serve meals, whether full time or part-timers, including, nursing and health care, housekeeping departments, care staff, and managers. Your food serving team is a powerful asset for the company when they are giving quality service. To lose residents because they were unhappy with the food and meal service is extremely costly and can be difficult to replace. Remember, mealtimes are the one thing your current and potential residents universally value.
B♥ Kind Tip: An investment in employee training is an investment in the residents, too.
Food has always been a comforter, whether coming home from school to nibble on the snack Mom had ready for you, chicken soup when you were ill, or gathering around the table for Sunday dinners or grand holidays with family and friends. Food is still the number one item the residents in your community look forward to every day, even if they are denied the dining room for safety reasons during this pandemic.
Your food serving teams are still the heroes that deliver the food wherever your residents sit to receive it. Well-trained food servers include the part-timers pulled from other departments during these times of stress and sparse staff. Well-trained food servers exchange communications with residents explaining the shortage situation for understanding purposes without causing alarm. While the food servers recognize difficulties in the daily workday, they do not commiserate or add more gloom to the room.
Good training brings out the willingness to accept sharing information with the residents. Trusted employees resolve a problem independently, with strategy when the company has faith to invest continued education in them. These times are critical in long-term care communities where employees have been stretched and are asked to stretch a bit more. The industry has been struggling with the worst labor scarcity in 30 years. It comes when long-term care communities are desperate for caring, competent employees who have experience in food serving. As your food serving teams have been guided to extend hospitality and healthcare for your residents, it is a time to remind them to take care of themselves, too.
Kind Dining♥ coaching and training courses have long impressed companies on the value of the educated, multi-skilled food serving teams. It is commonly understood that skilled food servers retain longer histories than a workforce without proper training. Our eLearning 9 module series is for your food serving teams, ancillary staff, and direct caregivers who serve meals and beverages. It is necessary for managers and those you pull from other departments when you have insufficient food servers, which is happening now during the pandemic.
Our training series is cost-effective, motivating, and experiential, meaning that we engage trainees by using action, reflection, application, and performance. Servers build empathy to respect the aging process and connect with the residents on a one-to-one basis. We teach personal and professional skills that improve the lives of your residents while improving the lives of those who serve them.
Kind♥ Tip: A knowledgeable, multi-skilled food service team stays with the company longer.
Many long-term care communities are finding ways to cut expenses yet benefit their residents at the same time. One of those improvements is investing in a garden. An area is set aside for residents to participate in the gardening program of planting, maintaining, and reaping vegetables, fruits, and herbs due to their input. The kitchen is much rewarded with fresh vegetables, fruits, and herbs that retain their nutrition because they are as fresh as possible. The herbs are used to enhance the flavor of the food and garnish to add eye appeal to any lagging appetites that may linger among the residents. Some communities have further invested in bringing a small portion of their garden indoors under controlled lighting and watering to produce fresh vegetables. The investment pays for itself at harvest time and in the interest of some residents who receive joy from being part of the growing season. Everyone is rewarded.
Invest in Farm-to-Table connections wherever possible. Buying locally and building meaningful relationships through agriculture creates solid foundations with food suppliers from your community. Because local foods are not stored and shipped great distances, they are sent in peak quality conditions resulting in more nutrients when your chef makes use of them. Certainly, that is a grand benefit for the residents. Foods imported fresh, including meat, from great distances require freezing or additives to preserve them. It is safer to rely on a source closer at hand that is known by reputation. The revenue spent on Farm-to-Table connections from the kitchen creates and supports partnerships in your community.
To round out these improvements, you want to have an accomplished food serving team to adapt and easily manage problems that arise and will impress your residents. A confident, multi-talented, and highly-skilled team that works closely with staff across departments. A community-wide team that can pass state and federal person-centered care surveys. A team that enhances the nursing home culture and dining experience for everyone involved.
Kind Dining♥ is a motivating, experiential, on-demand, trainer-led, nine-module eLearning training series. It’s designed uniquely to optimize the quality of life for older adults and quality-of-work for staff respectively in senior living communities at all levels of care. Our curriculum is designed to assist companies that don’t have time or resources to create their training or need a supplement to their current offerings. The foundation of Kind Dining♥ is rooted in putting residents first, raising service standards, and embracing relational service principles to improve community diners’ nutritional health and well-being. We teach principles around communication, team building, personalizing the dining experience, civility, and our unique hospitality brand. We also deliver wise investment consultations by phone and Zoom meetings.
B♥ Kind Tip: Is the time right to improve your community?
The pandemic has trimmed many workforces in our long-term care communities. Yet if you read the articles about the industry of food service, you will find that many employees leave the job within the first 90 days because they didn’t know what their work responsibilities were or how to perform them. The simple answer to that seems to be clear. Invest in a food service training program, raise the value of your food serving team, and hold on to them. The focus is still on person-centered care. The training program needs to provide newly hired employees an onboarding experience and your present staff the knowledge and tools necessary to enhance the dining experience for each and every resident. Working smarter in alignment enters into the daily work schedule for nurturing a sense of hospitality and improved healthcare through service.
Kind Dining♥ curriculum was designed to teach your food serving teams from all departments the importance of the dining experience to residents while uncovering the importance of each food server to each resident. They will learn how to build trust and make connections through chit-chat when serving a meal. Lessons will explore what the company must do to create a winning food service team, to instill pride in the food servers’ work as they take away a better self-image.
Change is always in the air. A new, sophisticated, generation of older adults fills our communities. New regulations add to the demands and care of the Covid-19 virus and its following strains, making training programs even more vital to your food servers. These teams wear full personal protective equipment and adhere to the new normal for the foreseeable future. These extraordinary precautions are as fundamental as professionally – trained food servers.
Kind Dining♥ of Higher Standards LLC training modules turns your new employees into professionals, regardless of their diversity. It will guide your present food servers to work in concert as a team, building new habits of working, expanding their knowledge and self-confidence in adding new responsibilities. This translates into improving long-term care and assisted living quality. In addition, you may depend on your employees receiving quality training for nursing home care and the right training to prepare for QIS surveys. Our program is designed to reach a diverse group of servers, using visuals, action exercises, limited text, and the principles of empathy and receiving respect, caring, and integrity. No matter which department your food servers are pulled from, whether temporary or full time, they deserve to know the principles of service and proper serving techniques and your residents deserve that they do.