A retired friend told me recently how she made an excellent living in the old days, by being a waitperson during the years of raising a family.
“I was good at it. My aunt trained me,” she said. “I was pleasant and paid close attention to my customers’ tables without obviously staring at them. With my ‘regulars,’ I remembered what their preferences were. That impressed them. I pampered them without fussing and I was thoughtful and kind.
It was just a matter of good manners carried a little further. It works very well. I was more than civil to my coworkers and often stepped in to help when it was needed. We all wanted to get the food to the table while it was still hot. Of course, in return, they responded with the same kindness. I loved my customers, my work, the wait staff, and the results it brought.”
When any query is raised about improving work performance, training, and education are always at the top of the list. It’s unfortunate, but not everyone was raised with good manners and showed consideration for others.
In communities, serving older adults it is imperative to display those fine qualities along with the professional skills learned for fulfilling your responsibility. Residents receiving physical help are in dire need of kindness and consideration.
Coworkers who are sometimes overworked and may have personal problems of their own running around in their heads, also appreciate a helping hand from another teammate. That kind of relationship with a coworker builds commitment to the job and the community.
A few minutes of chit-chat creates cultural conditioning, shows respect, and establishes trust between coworkers. These may seem like small doings but they are important social skills that make a better environment. Employees stay on the job when they are content with their working relationships.
Kind Dining® training curriculum has impressed companies with the value of educated, multi-skilled, kind, and civil employees.
It is commonly understood that well-trained employees, confident in their work, remain on the job much longer than those without proper training. Our online courses are for your full and part-time, direct care workers, and managers.
Our training sessions are experiential. We train by using action, reflection, application, and performance.
All employees build empathy to respect the aging process by using kindness to connect with residents. They also learn to build solid, trusting relationships with their coworkers.
We teach personal and professional skills that improve the lives of your residents while improving the lives of those who serve them.
Be ♥ Kind Tip: Help residents feel they made the right decision by moving into your community. Remember you are the face of the organization.
Your new residents are starting over, sometimes after living in the same house for 50 or 60 years.
They had to downsize, give away, donate, or throw away their lifetime of brick a brac, and souvenirs. Art treasures and wall hangings must go. There is no room in their new home. Clothes closets must be reduced to fit the new residence. Sometimes, there will be no need for food processors, mixers, and other kitchen tools. It is a major decision in the last chapter of one’s life.
They are starting over, looking forward to a carefree life without the heavy responsibilities of home ownership. They also know that this is the last place to live before moving to the hereafter. It comes with age or, in the case of assisted living communities, infirmities.
Whether the chosen home is in a senior living or assisted living community, they will need a warm welcome and assurance that they chose the right community.
Your food serving team is where they will find comfort and confidence if your team has received excellent training.
When kindness, empathy, and consideration are offered along with meals being served, your residents receive exactly what is needed.
Kind Dining® training series addresses these skills of hospitality and healthcare that can be learned, along with technical skills, behavior control, and positive thinking.
Helping people by listening to their life experiences is the highest form of hospitality. Because it makes them feel better to share their stories, it also attends to their healthcare.
When these new residents move into your community, your food serving team can help them adjust by listening to their concerns, triumphs, and, though it is a little harder, their bumps in the road.
The food serving team can assist in shaping a resident’s outlook on their new lifestyle. This creates a safe space. When your food servers contribute to healthcare this way, they will feel added value to their lives.
We at Kind Dining® training love this new approach.
We teach how the principles of kindness counteract the greatest threat facing the world today.
Too many people are experiencing the epidemic of loneliness, isolation, and the feeling of not belonging. Listening with intent is a major kindness not to be taken for granted. It is a dual kindness in helping the speaker and helping the listener, too.
Your committed food-serving team will also learn that practicing kindness during their working hours becomes a way of life that improves their own lives.
We teach finding solutions to these most challenging problems that arise in senior care communities at all levels of care.
Be ♥ Kind Tip: Do you love our new approach to teaching the principles of kindness?
There are no reasons to be lonely when you live in an Independent or Assisted Living community. Yet many residents have become lonely despite being closely surrounded by others in their age range and various life-enrichment activities to appeal to their interests.
Losing friends and family during the recent pandemic has impacted many, allowing a feeling of isolation to settle in. It is difficult to overcome that feeling for some, even though an extended sense of loneliness can cause a higher stress hormone cortisol, depression, and social anxiety.
When food servers notice an elder showing signs of loneliness, they may mention in conversation how becoming a volunteer for a community event is a great way to meet new friends without the awkwardness of stepping into a circle of strangers. Just increasing their social activities is a step toward decreasing isolated feelings. Getting to know their neighbors will boost their morale.
Living a stress-free lifestyle is offered in senior care communities to encourage healthy living and wellness by providing social opportunities. It also allows residents to stay independent in a safe, friendly environment.
Some residents need a little nudge from a familiar staff member whose advice they respect. Staying active lessens loneliness and the risk of Alzheimer’s and increases happy contentment. It’s easier to start a conversation while strolling onsite pathways around the community, sitting next to someone at an outdoor concert, or saying ‘hello’ to a dog walker.
Let it be known that friendships formed become chosen families.
The dining room or café is the most popular spot for social engagements. Mealtimes are much more than only eating good food. It’s a social experience that provides an easy opportunity to introduce oneself to new people. Making connections can be assisted by caring, helpful food servers. They can sometimes guide a fresh resident to a group that welcomes newcomers. It’s great to plan a day over coffee in the morning and share the resulting experience over dinner that evening.
More attention is now being paid to the loneliness residents are experiencing in the aftermath of the coronavirus.
Kind Dining® has been aware of the situation and designed a training curriculum to teach your staff how to respond and improve life with skill and caring. We have created this curriculum for the culture of belonging, with ongoing, continual learning through training for your staff, from which they also benefit. It gives them an incentive to stay with your company because they get to work at an organization that places value on them. They achieve the true quality of life for residents, quality of work for staff, and quality of success for the Senior Living Marketplace. Complete success lies in intentionally focusing on the older generation led by kind dining and civility.
Be ♥ Kind Tip: Excellent training and practice eradicate ignorance in your staff.
Some of the best information comes to me from friends overhearing conversations at lunchtime in restaurants.
This conversation came to me from a friend:
“When are they going to understand that I am not my grandmother? I am their grandmother. I am different and experience life differently. They cannot assume I will think like others my age just because I am that age. I still think for myself and make my own choices. That is important to me. It was my choice to relocate my home base to a Senior Living Community because I am independent and demand I am treated so by everyone, family, friend, colleague, and staff member.”
Her dining companion quickly replied, “Which, by the way, I have introduced politeness and kindness to a food server recently. I reminded her of that very same idea. I am to be treated with respect and friendliness, and then we will get along just fine. I reminded her that the white hair on my head was not an indication of a grey brain. I’m still an individual, thinking my way. We may enjoy some interesting conversations ahead of us. She seems intelligent enough, just was not taught good manners.”
Both staff and residents have experienced incivility in their daily routines. Not all elderly people are the same, a fact that needs to be recognized by food serving staff. Life in senior communities does not need to suffer these awkward moments when a resident corrects the poor manners of a food server which may cause feelings of resentment. Training teaches how vital the dining experience is to every resident and each food server, including caregiving staff. When performed correctly and with joy, mealtimes are appreciated by all. It is an uplifting happening.
My hospitality background set the tone for the Kind Dining® training curriculum. It introduces interpersonal and technical skills that improve our communities and help to build relationships. The inclusion of staff serving meals, from all departments, in this training is vital. We also address emotional control tools and help your food serving team to become more engaged in self-improvement on their way to becoming highly valued employees by the company.
Kind Dining® training series shows commitment to helping those who want to succeed, discover a new sense of belonging and a meaning for their work, and feel passionate about their work.
Learn how Kind Dining® training can transform the dining experience in your community here.
Be ♥ Kind Tip: Older people in your community do not have the same expectations.
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.
Changing how you look at something changes your whole perspective. That is a key phrase to removing burnout from your long-term care and senior independent living community workforce.
From grocery stores to art galleries, changing your product around gives your shoppers a new way of looking at what you have to offer. It freshens the atmosphere. Flexibility in work schedules and routines will do the same for your food serving teams, including everyone who participates in bringing food and beverages to your residents. Most importantly, it prevents burn-out, reduces sick-day absences, and promotes good health. Allowing flexibility in schedules shows your employees that the company cares enough to improve their working hours. Service providers tend to be exposed to emotional and physical demands during their long hours, which creates stress. This high-pressure environment leads to burnout.
Good training and scheduled discussion meetings are resources needed to manage these chronic stressors and exhaustion that spread low morale. Employees with burnout compromise the quality of care residents receive in your community and damage your community’s reputation. Keeping your staff fit, energetic, and uplifting affects your residents, keeping them happier and healthier. Also, think of the costs saved by preventing a problem instead of the expensive cost of hiring new ones. Open communication with management includes clarifying what duties are expected of each individual. This helps to solidify working relationships that ease an already tight labor market.
It is promising to know that burnout can be avoided by learning how to work smarter with intention. Kind Dining♥ training series encourages practicing newly learned skills that give confidence to all staff who participate, not just your food serving team. They will continue to find value in their work performance and build a better self-image. Your team will learn to manage their behavior and accountability while improving their mental health. You want your residents to enjoy top-quality experiences every day. Your highly trained staff plays a major part in that experience.
Our Kind Dining♥ online and on-demand training series consists of 9 service training modules divided into 3 sections. The Foundations of Service, The Nuts and Bolts of Service, and Maintaining Service are happy and proud to announce the series is now approved for 11 Continuing Education Units for RDNs, & NDTRs from the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR). Please consider attending one of our monthly complimentary Taste of Kind Dining Showcases to see Module 1 of the series. Contact Cindy directly firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be♥ Kind: Do you know body language extends communication beyond mere words?
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.
“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.
The best experience you can give your residents is the employee who loves to come to work every day. This is the result of taking the hassle out of the hospitality you offer. Encourage all of your employees to become friendly with each other, to work as a team, helping each other when help is needed the most. This is a key to the community that flows smoothly, eliminating costly upsets. When your employees enjoy the work they do, they bring out the happiness of your residents in a natural way. This is nurturing that is a skill and cannot be forced, but can be discovered lying beneath the surface of the untrained server. The reality and logic of this plan can come from Kind Dining training for all your staff from your caregivers, housekeepers, nurses, to your managers.
Encourage camaraderie between employees at all levels and those employees with the residents. This dissolves walls that isolate people. Including your residents in this seemingly casual way makes them feel an important part of the community. They will thoroughly enjoy an enriching conversation with any staff member. It is a warm feeling of welcome that long remains after the initial newness. Residents will boast about their home where the staff feels like family. It is the staff, and servers in particular, that they see more often than family. This is a lifeline to keeping your community vibrant, alive with people who are joyful with their home environment.
Hospitality has always started with welcoming people to your home, your table. It is the same with your residents in this place they have chosen to live the remainder of their lives. The dining room has become more significant than ever. Since the heart of your community is the dining room this is where your servers’ playfulness with the residents will reflect hospitality the most. Kind Dining® will train all your servers to understand that they carry this vital shared responsibility. When the community runs smoothly troubling incidents are eliminated. Investing in valuable training is a better choice than fixing costly repairs in the fabric of running a successful community.
Now is a good time to pay attention to particulars that may arise with the holidays coming up on the horizon. Seniors often prefer inviting family and friends to the community instead of breaking their routines by going out. This proved to be true when an informal poll taken in several communities in December 2016 was published in the Huffington Post, by Laura Dixon. It revealed that 50 to 80 percent of their residents chose this option.
It also provides the perfect opportunity, with decorations creating a warm, cozy feeling in your facility, to allow your residents’ guests to experience your dining room superiority when they notice the positive attitude of your Kind Dining-trained servers and the personal attention paid to each resident. When these culture changes appear, your residents know that someone is listening to them. The dining room is your greatest asset!
At this time of the year, when your clients are sentimental and missing their former lives. A thoughtful consideration goes a long way to soothing a sad resident. Introducing specialty holiday foods will be noticed and greatly appreciated. These small additions to the menu will fill many pockets of yearning and your residents will introduce a remembered story to tell their dining companions. This is so important, socially, in forming new friendships in the dining room.
Since the dining room is the heart of the community where residents socialize during their three meals a day, it is also the ideal place to focus on kindness. It can turn around an unhappy resident who may be complaining about a food or service, when they are really suffering a change of medicine affecting him adversely or family attention she really craves. Once your servers are trained they will recognize this immediately and be able to respond with kind understanding.
Add the appearance of your chef in the dining room after the main course, asking if they are savoring the meals he created especially for their holiday enjoyment and the seniors will know that he really is putting their desires first. This holiday season turn your facility into an exceptional community that speaks for itself by using Truths 1, 2, & 6 from the Six Truths. #1: Mealtime is the Best Marketing Tool for Your Community. #2: Seniors in the Community Focus on Meal Times. #6 Investing in Your Employees is Best for Culture Change.
Learn more about the 6 truths in 5 minutes, by watching the video on our website.
Be sure to watch for our new Table tips message on Tuesday’s beginning next month, and our Share a Kindness Today, Thursday Blog posts.
Thank you for choosing Higher Standards as your training partner, and Kind Dining as your training tool.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you, the people you serve, friends and family,
Truth #2 Mealtimes are the Core of Your Community.
Mealtimes are so much more than nourishing the body of each resident. It’s a time to form new, or replenish, the friendships they’ve made in the community and their acquaintance with your servers. Socializing is an important part of their well-being. This takes place at the table. Your residents spend 60% of their day focusing on mealtimes. It’s a time for them to leave their home (room) to go ‘out’ to eat. The news they will hear in the dining room is more important to them than what the newscaster tells them on TV.
At times, your servers will need to act the part of the social host, introducing new residents or suggesting one particular person meet another because of an interest they share. Your servers will shine in satisfaction with the results of these efforts. This is a time for the dining room to be one big, happy, family. It is also in your best interest if all residents come to the dining room rather than sit in their room because of shyness. This is a labor-saving preference for your servers and your kitchen staff.
Your chef has usually completed his timely work by the time seniors are sitting down to enjoy his efforts. This is an ideal time for your chef to come into the dining room, smiling, to say ‘Hello, I hope you are you enjoying your food.” Your residents will instantly know he cares. This is the habit of fine restaurants because it works wonders.
Meals must be served on time. The first fifteen minutes sets the pace, reinforcing the residents’ belief that everything is in order and the community is the most wonderful place to be.
Kind Dining© knows how to train your staff as a team working together so that everyday’s mealtimes go as smoothly as Grandma’s holiday dinners. The residents will be as happy as the family that sat around her table.