Once the experience of moving into an Independent Living Community happens, the older person has found a place to belong, enjoy, and begin a new chapter in life. There comes a time to let younger families take care of house maintenance, repairs, and household responsibilities. It’s time for the elder of the family to step into the hustling, bustling center full of new friendships to form fresh opportunities and join in the day’s events.
Today’s independent and assisted living communities are designed to enhance people’s quality of life. A place where they happily belong. A typical day begins when the person chooses whether to sleep in or meet the ‘pre-breakfast club’ for coffee in the dining room, where they meet daily at the same table. There is always room for a “newbie.” Afterward, some will stay for breakfast, and some will go to their rooms. The person serving the meal is a member of the food serving team and greets everyone with a smile. She knows who takes cream and sugar in their coffee and who drinks only tea while greeting each one by name. The group will discuss last night’s events and plans for the coming day.
The residents realize that the server also belongs to this group because she loves her work, the community, and the company that hired and trained her. They invested in her by teaching them the skills needed to be an educated, competent, and a caring food-serving team member. She is a young woman who plans to remain with this community. She feels confident that she belongs here.
Kind Dining♥ curriculum coaches your staff in the skills necessary to connect personally with the residents they serve. These connections will reverse any feelings of loneliness left from the recent pandemic and create the confidence of belonging in your community. The easiest and most logical place to begin this is with meal times. It may take practice and reminders for your food-serving team to know personal connections are more important than a task waiting to be completed. Encourage your team to understand empathy and the aging process and how it affects older adults, to add kindness to their list of skills along with the basics of serving meals and beverages. Continue their lessons, practices, and discussions while instructing methods to show you care. The more knowledgeable your food serving team is, the more the company can depend on them to love coming to work daily.
Be♥ Kind: Social skills when serving meals are more important than the basics.
Stories come to me from all directions. As soon as my career choice is known, someone has a story for me. This one came from the laundromat while the woman’s dryer at home was being repaired or replaced.
“My mother-in-law is way ahead of us. She announced last week that she has researched senior living communities and has chosen one for herself. She is selling her house and moving.”
“Oh, my!” came the reply of her companion. “I’ve never heard of that happening.”
“She said it is like going on a permanent vacation, and she deserves it. Further, she has lunch with a friend in the community she chose and received first-hand recommendations, like what to look for and what is most important. She has chosen her friend’s community.”
“Tell me more. I want to relay the information to my mother, who has been living solo since my father died four years ago. I’m concerned with her lack of luster since the pandemic. Maybe a senior independent living community is the answer.”
She continued to say that, surprisingly, it wasn’t the fancy trimmings that made the decision easy; it was the people who worked there. The staff, as she called them. First, they made her feel welcome as she came in the door. One young woman took the time to chat with her, and later after touring the grounds and common rooms with her friend, they stayed for lunch. She knew the food being served was especially important. The young woman, who met her when she came in, waited for their table and remembered speaking to her when she arrived! She was so impressed! She knew at that moment she belonged there.
It was obvious that the young woman who met the mother-in-law at the door was educated to respond with a pleasant greeting to any visitor. Following up by recognizing her when she served the meal was the result of training, loving the work you do, and being a part of a team who shares the same goals.
Kind Dining♥ continuing training series creates a culture of belonging, of working as a unified team. The knowledge gained in training sessions benefits the staff by giving them the incentive to stay, to work with intention, and to have the confidence to extend that sense of belonging to the residents. They get to work with a company that values them.
We are proud to announce that Kind Dining® is now approved for 11 Continuing Professional Education credits for RDNs, & NDTRs, as well as CDMs. CPEs are from the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR), the credentialing agency for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. This includes 1 Ethics unit for the entire series. The CPEs for Certified Dietary Managers are from the Certifying Board of Dietary Managers (CBDM), the credentialing agency for the Association of Nutrition and Foodservice Professionals.
Be♥ Kind: Skills gained in training sessions benefit the staff, giving them the incentive to stay.