One of the huge negatives left behind after the pandemic faded is isolation.
So many residents who enjoyed the camaraderie of living in an independent living community still have that sense of being left out.
Many elders didn’t have a chance to bond with other residents to build friendships when the pandemic hit.
Now is the time to move back into routines of meeting friends for lunch or dinner or even to begin the day with conversation over coffee and bagels.
Again, this is a place where a food server can perform a vital service. Be on the lookout for a resident who needs a bit of assistance in meeting others. If you notice diners still taking meals in their rooms, suggest going down to the dining room.
Reassure them that you will introduce them to others you think will enjoy sharing a meal and some news of the day. It is a small kindness on the part of a food server that makes a huge difference to a resident. You will also be helping someone already in the dining room waiting to meet a person new to them. That small kindness will touch more than the one person you are helping.
When you perform this small kindness, watch the results with great satisfaction and the enjoyment of knowing you have created happiness that overflows and spreads to affect more than the one person you started with.
You also have a hand in keeping the people you serve healthier. Research has shown that loneliness may increase failing health where social connections to others can create overall immunity to illness.
Feeling left out and alone drags on your immunity which fights against disease. There is enormous power in fulfilling a small kindness.
Training employees to give their best behavior and to like the results of new skills they use, such as kindness shared is a major key to success.
Kind Dining♥ training turns your employees into the company’s most valuable assets.
Residents rely on your food servers in many ways which include being content to invite friends and family to join them at meals. It is noticeable when your food serving team cares enough about a diner in your community to extend intentional kindness.
We invite every employee within senior living communities to be cross-trained in our fun, focused, practical skills, and competencies, which makes each meal an enjoyable experience.
Be♥ Kind: Do you know loneliness lessens the immunity of an older person?
It’s like a party!
When you entertain, you want your guests to feel special to have received an invitation to your home. You prepare foods and beverages that entice, tempt an appetite, please the eye, and you serve a variety so there is a choice. You want your guests to know they are welcome in your home, and to socialize with other guests you’ve invited.
Mealtimes at your senior living community have the same goals that you do for a party at your home. It’s on a larger scale but the standards and challenges are similar. It also takes the same skills you want your food serving team in your community to perform as naturally as breathing.
A good host will be aware of certain people who need to connect and be brought together, knowing they will benefit from each other’s company. You want food servers who can spot a possible problem and know how to dissolve it before it develops. Most of all, you want your guests to be glad they came and will take away happy thoughts and memories of the evening.
Some people are legendary for the parties they’ve given and are known internationally. They weren’t born that way. They became great hosts through learning, practicing, and using social skills. They wear invisible antennae that tell them what is happening in their realm. These are the skills that you want your food servers to have and to use each time they step into their role as food servers.
It includes every employee that carries a plate of food or even a glass of water.
It includes full-time employees and part-timers, which may include teenagers who want the experience for their resume`.
An investment in training your food serving team, all of them, and following up with practice, practice, practice, promises that residents and guests will talk about your community in a way that will exceed the paid advertising you do. Your residents will feel and know they belong in your community. Your dining rooms will buzz with conversations that connect people as friends and create a general feeling of happiness throughout the halls of your community.
Kind Dining♥ are key words to your success. We offer virtual training sessions that you can extend to use with part-time and newly hired employees, as well as your full-time and long-time ones.
Training teaches ways to add kindness to their skills. It can open doors to culture change and understanding coworkers and residents.
A kinder, happier staff is a healthier one that creates committed employees who stay with the company. The spread of kindness to residents reinforces their immunity to illness. It begins with your food servers carrying pleasant considerations along with the food.
Know those food servers are still the company’s best assets. Investing in them is an investment in your community and your company’s growth.
Be♥ Kind: Training teaches ways to add kindness to a food server’s skills.
David and Matthew were driving to their usual Saturday morning basketball game to stay in healthy condition. Both worked in the management department of different long-term care communities but discussed problems and ideas because their workplace routines were similar regardless of what community it was.
Matthew began as soon as David put the car in gear to pull away from the curb. “The boss called an impromptu meeting this week to discuss management’s weakness in leadership. It seems our filling in at meal times has not brought the high response he expected. Not the best comments were made from the residents he polled nor from the full-time food serving team we were supposed to be helping because of the labor shortage. He was pretty upset, though he stayed calm while he called us failures.”
David chuckled to soften the self-criticism knowing Matthew took his job seriously and wasn’t the sole person responsible for the poor response. “Don’t be too hard on yourself. We, meaning management, are not always able to sit in on the training sessions the food-serving teams get. The boss expects us to know about serving meals. I’m not sure how we are supposed to know if they don’t allow us in on the training. I never waited tables in college. My part-time job was working in the library.”
“He also revealed a bit of his plans for 2023, saying that for the first time, an allowance for a series of training is placed in the budget and for onboarding,” Matthew said with surprise in his voice. “With all the change of employees and lack of a full staff nowadays, he felt it important that we all get the training necessary, to be a completely fulfilled community organization. He claims that will include leadership training, I like learning new ways to look at the work I do. I confess, I never paid much attention to the waitperson when I was out for dinner. So I don’t know the proper ways to serve either. Just never thought of it.”
“I agree with you. Onboarding. Are you familiar with that term? David asked.
“I wasn’t. He said it’s about the newly hired, that they are easily confused and lost in workplace routines, guidelines, etc. He added that the largest number of employees that quit, do it within the first 90 days of being on the job. They wander through the halls, carry trays, and talk to you with a dazed look in their eyes. They have no idea what is required of them, let alone come to love the work they do.” Matthew replied. “The onboarding is training intended to make them comfortable and knowledgeable in their responsibilities to the point of developing commitment to the community and the company. I understand that it works. I’ll keep you informed before our next week’s game and I’ll drive then. Take care and I’ll see you next week.”
Kind Dining♥ training sessions introduce and train new employees so they can become part of the company/community family. They guide all employees to work together as a team helping each other while they are tending hospitality and healthcare to residents.
Kind Dining♥ knows the difference between teaching the basics and educating employees to become committed, long-time members of the community family; employees that stay with the company because they love the work they do, the community residents, and the rest of the work team.
Because many retirement and assisted living communities are shy of the number of employees needed to keep their community running smoothly, many are resorting to hiring gig workers.
After your company has responded to excellent training for its food servers and ancillary employees it is imperative to be certain gig workers are involved in the training program. To hire these part-time or short-term workers without providing the same, educated training the rest of your staff participates in, would upset the care invested to make your community stand above the others.
Staff retention is part of the goal to turn your well-trained staff into permanent, committed employees who accept the responsibilities of their work, and build relationships with the rest of the food serving team and with the residents.
Of course, this can be attained with the new workers who choose to attend fewer hours than a full week for their reasons. They can still be added to your list of permanent employees.
We are stepping into an era where applicants coming into the retirement and assisted living Marketplace are members of the Generation Z group of independent thinkers. They are often only accepting fewer working hours than what has been the norm. This may help fill the empty gaps made in your staff by the pandemic.
Remember the importance of their training. Instill your core company values ensuring empathy, respect, and kindness with coworkers and residents. The old guard can be a great help in working with gig employees by offering to mentor them. The practice of what gig workers learn in the training session is part of this mentoring.
Integrating a hybrid workplace in your community may be the answer to the short-staffed problem. The idea of Gen Z is focusing on the balance and flexibility of work and other life. It has been suggested that for some, this will be their primary income. For others, it will be a second income position. Combine this generation with the ‘baby boomers beginning to settle into retirement or assisted living communities.
Is your community ready for these major changes?
Training is helpful to include education about person-directed regulations required by government policies. If gig staffing is the way for your company to correct or supplement your strained staffing issues, at least they can depend on the company to provide training for proper service to introduce and meet your person-centered goals and residents’ service expectations.
Kind Dining♥ is ready to assist you in this goal. Our training series is 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-on-one basis.
We teach personal and professional skills that improve the lives of your residents while improving the lives of those who serve them. These skills will benefit the performance of your gig employees as well as refresh your permanent employees who will be there to help them through the process of becoming an employee that makes the company proud.
Be♥ Kind Tip: A hybrid workplace may be the answer to the company’s short-staffed problem.
“Our last training session took an unexpected turn this time. I was quite surprised at first. When I gave it some thought, it all made sense.” Kelly spoke with her usual enthusiasm. She and her mentor Coleen were enjoying lunch at their favorite bistro in town. They agreed that the service was as good as the food. They always took note of both.
Colleen replied, “It must be important if it impressed you so.”
“Well, you know how much stress is placed on our assistance in helping our residents in every way we can when we serve their meals or snacks. But in this session, we were shown how learning new skills give us value and aid us in building our self-confidence. In turn, we learn to manage our behavior! I never thought of it that way! Remember Midge and her behavior problems? We were all sorry she couldn’t change her bullying ways which resulted in her leaving. We food servers certainly show accountability.” Kelly took a deep breath.
“I’m so happy we work as a team and no longer have to worry about facing a bully.”
Colleen smiled and added, “Remember that it improves our mental health, too. Those additional skills you continue to learn to reduce experiencing burnout. Hopefully, the pandemic is behind us, though we still need to be conscious of residents who may face loneliness. Generally, isolation is gone but individuals suffer from it. We food servers are the first to notice, I think.”
“It’s from our daily and personal contact with each resident. Building trust with them one conversation at a time helps. A few have opened up to me when they had a mild case of the blues. Our communication by sharing thoughts keeps the feelings of isolation away. ”
Too often, retirement and assisted living communities are staffed with under-trained employees including those serving meals. The well-trained employees will start their day being aware and recognizing different moods older adults may be carrying. C
ommunication and asking open-ended questions to keep a person engaged can turn a blue day into a happy-I’m-so-glad-I-chose-to-live-here-day. It’s a small moment that can bring about a big change in an attitude, all while serving a meal. Setting an intention to make that difference by showing empathy and compassion will lift the spirits of the server, too.
New skills learned during Kind Dining♥ training sessions build confidence in your employees by their becoming aware of the value of what they do. They learn to manage their behavior, and accountability and will avoid the tendency to burn out. This improves mental health by keeping spirits high.
Be♥ Kind Tip: New skills learned in training sessions keep spirits high and build confidence.
Your food serving team is the most powerful segment of the senior care community! Their work responsibility begins long before the salad is washed or onion is tossed into a pot. Your registered dietitian might be busy researching and choosing foods for individuals who need particular attention to what they can and cannot eat. They are designing meals for residents recovering from illness or physical disability for added nutrition selected for healing. Dietitians and other Nutrition Professionals are very passionate about food. They work closely with your Chef and Food and Dining Service Directors.
Menu planning to satisfy the many different palates and tastes and preferences of your residents; finding sources for fresh vegetables and fruits, the best meat suppliers, and other foods get the chef’s attention before even thinking about firing up the stove or filling a pot with water. Chefs are very passionate about food. They also work closely with the other chefs and cooks in the kitchen.
Food preps do the chopping, slicing, dicing, and preparing foods to ready them for the chefs. They need to be dexterous, energetic, and stress-free. They are very passionate about food and often are there to gain experience too, hopefully, become a chef one day.
Assistants and helpers fill in other necessary jobs in the kitchen. The best are reliable, efficient, and skilled at maintenance. They are also passionate about food. It is why they choose to work in the kitchen. By now you know this is a unique team of workers that ready the food for the servers to deliver to residents either in the café, dining room, or their private quarters at least three times a day. Since culture change requirements suggest keeping the kitchen open, the kitchen must be manned at all times.
All of these people are highly skilled. When the results of their efforts are favorable, word spreads and the community will attain a high occupancy. The quality of food and its presentation often is the only promising difference when a potential resident is searching for the right place to call home.
With a top team preparing meals and snacks for your residents, you want to have highly skilled food servers from all departments delivering these wonderful meals. Your food servers are the bridge not just from the kitchen, but from the community to the residents. It’s vital they use their developed skills to gain trust, open communication and build relationships.
Kind Dining♥ training sessions are now available online and on-demand using training modules that are divided into 3 sections. The Foundation of Service, (1-3), the Nuts & Bolts of Service, (4-6), and Polishing Service (7-9). The series takes approximately 8 hours to complete. The curriculum has recently been approved for 11 hours of credit (CEU), including 1 for Ethics, from the Commission on Dietetic Registration. Allow yourself or your wait staff to become passionate about serving food that was prepared in a kitchen full of people passionate about food.
Be♥ Kind Tip: Allow your wait staff to become passionate about their work.