What makes your residents want to stay in your community?

What makes your residents want to stay in your community?

And thats where it all began...senior couples on a double date at a cafe

A friend told me recently that while having lunch at a local café, she overheard this conversation from the booth next to hers and could hardly wait to repeat it to me.

“I just found a larger senior living community with more amenities than where my mom is living. I researched it thoroughly, and when I told her about it, and all the extras offered that she doesn’t have, guess what she said? ‘No, thank you. I love where I am now. I’ve made new friends that I won’t leave them behind. Our group meets every day at noon for lunch, and we have the best time!  Mike always has a funny story to tell, and Maryann comes up with one interesting subject or another. She’s a writer, you know. We make plans and go to whatever special program is happening for the day. After dinner together, we get a card game going. That is the most fun! No, dear. Thank you, but I’m having more fun than in the old neighborhood, so I’m not going anywhere.’ I was surprised to hear her so enthused. It’s the happiest I’ve seen her in a long time.”

Her lunch companion replied. “So, you don’t have to feel guilty about encouraging her to sell up and move into the senior community?”

“Feel guilty? I’m collecting congratulations and applause. She went on to tell me how easy her life is now. Huge amounts of work and household responsibilities are gone. No more lonely nights. Replaced with fun time. She has even taken up genealogy to research the family line. I’ve never seen my mother so engaged in living! Really. The staff are all nice and friendly, even to family visitors. She has staff favorites that she now tells me about. She knows who is going to college and who will be a grandma for the first time. My mother has become amazing. All thanks go to her senior living community ‘family’ as she calls them.”

Our Kind Dining® training curriculum was designed to create that true home feeling for your residents that comes from how your staff interacts with them and each other. Once seniors move into your community, it is the warmth of caring that comes, especially from your food serving team, that makes them feel at home. Offer training to your employees to hone the skills that achieve the results you want for your company. Well-trained employees are a powerful asset. Invest in your staff and save the cost of hiring new employees. Keep in mind that happy residents don’t move out!

Cindy has a passion for food and hospitality and a unique approach to it. When you hire her to train your staff virtually, she will bring the energy and expertise that reinvigorates your entire organization to embrace customer service with a new mindset that produces positive results”.

Kind Dining – Hospitality makes the difference!

B♥ Kind Tip: Encourage your staff to show they care by interacting with your residents.

Does your staff realize how alien your community is to a new resident?

Does your staff realize how alien your community is to a new resident?

senior alone looking far away


What makes your residents want to stay in your community?

Many older adults have the wrong impression of what a senior living community is like. Just because an individual moves into your community doesn’t mean he/she is happy there. It is often more difficult for an older person to make new friends. It takes time to adjust to a new environment, new daily routines, unfamiliar faces, and not all the home things surrounding them that make a person comfortable. It isn’t easy for some to step solo into a game or activity room, even if the sounds of enjoyment are carried in the air. Many, particularly women, have never entered a restaurant on their own, let alone sat and ate lunch or dinner by themselves.

Amenities in a community are useless if a resident is too shy to walk into the activity room. This is another area where the Kind Dining® training curriculum excels. Our training sessions include introducing soft skills to your staff and teaching how to use pleasant chitchat with residents.

How to greet a new resident and escort them into a dining room or to a table that will happily make room for them will come naturally after some practice. Small acts of consideration tell residents they are welcome and will soon feel like they are at home.

The goal is to make your community an excellent place for your residents to live and for your staff to work. Our training helps your employees reshape their way of thinking so they can transform their lives into positive ones, and it will let your residents know that they have chosen the right place to live.

With training and practice, all your employees will be able to recognize the body language of a resident, which will show them that caring attention is needed. They will also learn to make on-the-spot decisions that can turn a sad situation into a happy one.

All the staff must understand and be fully aware of the stress and emotions of some new residents trying to settle in.

Helping residents feel they belong and are part of a big family is the responsibility of every person who works in the community. Kind Dining® training also allows your employees to befriend each other.

Remember that the community your staff knows well is strange and unknown to a newcomer. It is a new chapter for them that can be the happiest time of their lives if they engage in it fully. Your staff can help with that and make life good for them.

B♥ Kind Tip: Staff can turn an unhappy new resident into an “I love it here” resident.

How do you see the work you do?

How do you see the work you do?

Male chef and group of people at cooking classes kind Dining

“How did you come to work in this assisted living community?” Maryann, who is a part-time food server on Spring Break from college, asked Helen. They formed a friendly/mentor relationship since Maryann first came to work and now share a table during their lunchtime.

“Well,” Helen said, “my kids were off to college, like you” she smiled.

“I married young and was a stay-at-home mom, so I had no business experience, but wanted to go back to work again. There wasn’t much to do once the kids left.

I read the Help Wanted ad and felt confident I would qualify for the job. I had restaurant experience from years ago. They were looking for someone with a work ethic interested in learning and growing skills, friendly, caring, and with strong communication and listening skills.

I’m a mom and superb at those!

The ability to participate in teamwork was mentioned, too. That also appealed to me. I’m a believer in teamwork. Working weekends didn’t faze me and I would not be here later than 9 p.m. A perfect fit, I thought.”

“Wow,” Maryann replied, smiling. “I thought you’d been here forever.”

“No, only five years. I started part-time like you, but the training and continuing education sessions were so helpful that I quickly went full-time. I loved it from the first day. I enjoy the elder residents. Each one has told me their story. That sort of forms a personal bonding connection. It’s true that we food servers work as a team, even the staff who step in when needed. There is no bullying or ridiculing here! You must have noticed.”

“I’m embarrassed to say I kind of just come to work for the wages and convenience of hours.”

“You have noticed the rewards and recognition program, I know. Full-time employees receive excellent benefits, showing that the company respects the effort we make and cares for us, too. They want our residents to be the happiest and healthiest, fulfilling their lives as they desire. As a team of dedicated professionals, we aim to do just that!”

“Thank you, Helen. I see things differently now and will be more caregiving and considerate every day. It’s funny, looking at my work through your observations makes me see clearer and want to change my work habits for the better.”

Kind Dining® training sessions are designed for all employees whether full-time or part-time, including nursing and wellness, housekeeping departments, care staff, recreation teams, and managers. Your team is a powerful asset to the company when they are giving quality service.

Be ♥ Kind Tip: To see your value, look at your work through the eyes of others.

Are your employees familiar with experiential training?

Are your employees familiar with experiential training?

2 chefs in kitchen

Finding a new approach to dining in Residential care communities while still keeping within the present budget has been introduced by trending chef leaders of creative community dining. Using fresh, local food supplies to serve on order ala restaurant-style dining is here and is doing well.

Creative menus offer wholesome foods that taste as good as the food looks and are healthier than the cafeteria-style and cooking from canned foods and steam tables.

Chefs are preparing foods with herbs and seasonings to replace unnecessary sodium that most seniors are avoiding for health reasons.

Mealtimes are the most popular events of the day for socializing at the table, meeting new neighbors, and sharing with friends. Residents reject loneliness and isolation when looking forward to mealtimes as a time to make plans and share stories.

Upcoming chefs are redesigning their kitchen work habits to accommodate new ways of cooking on order and serving fine dining meals.  Establishing salad and casual snack bars replaces time-consuming efforts in the kitchen that can be used for other preparations.

Meetings encouraging the food serving team to offer their ideas and comments allow everyone to be part of the changes taking place. This inspires the food serving team to be more aware of the care they use in serving residents and will alert them to the importance of their work.

Creating new and better ways to serve meals is a time for unique opportunities for reviewing the work habits of every staff member who serves meals. Instilling a sense of pride in one’s work through meetings and discussions where each person on the food serving team has the freedom to be part of the transformation. 

Kind Dining® training sessions are designed for all employees who lift a plate of food, or even deliver a beverage to a resident.

It includes full or part-timers, nursing and caregivers, housekeeping department staff, and department managers.

Your food serving team is a powerful asset to the company when they are giving quality service.

Employees are cross-trained in our fun, focused, practical skills and competency curriculum which teaches how each meal can be an enjoyable experience.

Kind Dining® developed virtual training instruction online workshops for easier access. The goal is to help food servers work better by working wisely, while still learning how to expand their knowledge in their work field.

Would your food serving staff like to advance their skills?

Would your food serving staff like to advance their skills?

Smiling Restaurant Staff Gesturing Thumbs Up Against White KInd Dining Trainees

Is the goal for your long-term care community to be superior in service to other communities in your area? To have your reputation rise above all others? To be a top-notch community where service people want to work, and aging adults want to live? If you answer yes, it is time to introduce lifetime learning to your staff.

Kind Dining® has helped staff understand and improve their role and the importance of teamwork to enhance dining and nutrition for residents by adding new ways to their workday.

Learning ‘mindset before skill and tool set’, including soft skills, to their present skills to become a valuable member of the food serving team.  These soft skills of conscientiousness, personal reflection, and development, added to experience and mentorship, are learned through our Kind Dining® training sessions. Their soft skills become power skills.

We have revisited staff who benefitted from our curriculum to hear what they learned from Kind Dining® training sessions. The following are a few of the replies received:

“I’m more compassionate, take my time to listen, and make their mealtime more enjoyable. Helped in the serving department and treated the residents as if they were in a restaurant setting. I am more aware of how I serve the resident their food. Try to breathe through my nose before I respond. When something goes wrong.” – Caregiver

“Remembering to have empathy, remembering that the care center is a home, showing kindness to everyone.”   -Activities

“I am rephrasing how I want to explain things to the resident. I’m making the food look more presentable and prettier for the residents.” Cook

“I engage in more conversations, and I am more attentive to the needs of the residents when they are dining in the dining room.” Caregiver

“Dining as a community event and the role of food in healing.” Nurse

Quietly send your mother to have dinner in your dining room:

  • Would she experience a well-oiled team working together?
  • Would the dining room be full of smiles?
  • Would her needs be satisfied without asking?
  • Would she receive kindness and compassion?
  • Would the staff exchange polite words with her?
  • Would she be served an appetizing and nutritious meal?
  • Would you be delighted with the report she brought back to you?

Be committed to hospitality and healthcare in your community by enrolling your staff in continuous learning with Kind Dining® training. Help your staff advance their skills. Kind Dining® training modules, now offered online, will save your company time and money.

Check them out at KindDining.com

Be ♥ Kind Tip: Superior teamwork enhances the dining experience for residents.

Does your food serving team see through the eyes of your residents?

Does your food serving team see through the eyes of your residents?

mature woman soft smile

Is this a good time to look at your food service through the eyes of your customers as top-notch restaurateurs do?

Do you realize that your residents yearn for the same quality of food and service that their favorite restaurants gave them? Those are the restaurants, bistros, and trattorias they patronized before they made your community their home.

That kind of dining service is not out of reach. A food serving team that works together to improve the quality of mealtimes that residents look forward to every day.

An inspired chef can create interesting menus, bring in fresh foods, and design the kitchen to prepare food when ordered. The new way has overcome the old way of cooking early in the day and keeping it hot on steam tables until mealtime.

Still combining healthcare with hospitality, an inspired chef will use herbs and seasonings to replace the salt most seniors need to avoid. It will benefit their health while pleasing their palate.

Dining is their time to socialize, try new dishes with intoxicating flavors, and share stories with newly made or reacquainted long-time friends.

An inspired chef and food service team working together can create excitement at mealtimes and compliment the architecture and décor in your community that first attracted your residents to choose your home.

Your food serving team is a powerful tool for the company.  The dining room’s quality of food and service is their most valued asset. Meals that are talked about with warmth, delight, and satisfaction carry more assurance than advertisements. Word-of-mouth is a strong advantage.

Kind Dining♥ training modules are now available online.

Our curriculum is comprised of 9 training modules divided into 3 sections.

We will help refresh the work habits of your long-term food servers, educate your newly hired food servers, and show your part-time food servers how to be part of the team.

A well-trained team helps your community stand out from others by having employees who learn to be dedicated to their work.

Do your food servers encourage new residents?

Do your food servers encourage new residents?


Brown Label With English Text Welcome Home With Purple And White  Kind Dining Training Cindy Heilman

Many seniors will decide to leave their present home and make their new and final home in a senior or an assisted living community. This is a lifetime decision and not one that is made lightly. When keeping this in mind, your food servers have the power to reassure any hesitancy of these new residents. Incorporating kindness into their daily routine shows commitment to helping new residents settle in. It also improves their day. They display empathy by lending an ear and taking a few minutes to listen.

Older Adults making your community their home will welcome this kindness as they often left a home of 50 years. They leave behind a houseful of familiar antiques and treasures to move into a smaller place. Downsizing is rewarding in itself.  It can also be painful to leave those treasures collected over a lifetime.

Hospitality is encouragement when starting fresh. Hospitality is also a comfort and is healthful.

Food has always been a comfort and a major factor in the senior and assisted living community.

The food server is the carrier of that comfort. Your food serving team must add the skills of empathy and sincere listening to their list of practiced technical skills. Follow those skills up with practicing kindness to become a way of life. It eases a workday and improves the attitude of the giver and receiver. Now that dining rooms and restaurants in these communities have re-opened, mealtimes can return to their former social times. They become a focal point for renewing friendships and meeting new residents.

It is a time for excitement and fun. It is a time for enjoying the chef’s choices, the food servers’ comments, and the warmth of a table shared with others.

Our training modules at Kind Dining® are experiential.

We engage trainees by using action, reflection, application, and performance. Servers learn empathy with delicacy for seniors who left their family homes to become permanent residents in your community.

Your food serving team can connect with residents one-on-one to build good relationships. We teach that personal and professional skills, like hospitality and healthcare, go hand in hand. These skills improve the lives of your residents while improving the lives of those who serve them.

Everyone benefits from thorough and refreshed training; the residents, their families, the entire food serving team, and the company.

Be ♥ Kind Tip: Personal and professional skills go hand in hand, like hospitality and healthcare.

Are your food servers aware of the emotions of starting over for residents?

Are your food servers aware of the emotions of starting over for residents?

Portrait of serious african american old man looking at camera

Starting over.

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?

Do you have any residents in your community that are lonely?

Do you have any residents in your community that are lonely?

senior man sitting alone and feeling lonely

Imagine sitting in your room in a senior retirement living community.

You have survived the loneliness of isolation from the Covid-19 pandemic, but now it is over. Yet you are still lonely because you moved into this caring community just before the pandemic started, and you never had a chance to make friends.

Loneliness feeds on your immunity.

You only saw your food servers. How would you feel?

You’ve been relying on the kindness of your food serving team for conversation, and now you still depend on a kind word that will encourage you to sit at a stranger’s table in the dining room.

It isn’t easy if a person is naturally shy or doesn’t hear well and hesitates to ask a stranger if they may join them. Intentional kindness from a food server to make that approach easier by introducing a resident to a table is a small effort for the server, a major appreciation from the resident.

Social interaction is a defense against loneliness. It helps in your residents’ health. An assisted living community’s food serving team has the power to help your residents feel that they are welcome and are a part of your community instead of feeling abandoned.

Not everyone thinks to react to a situation with kindness. It isn’t that they are rude, just that they didn’t think of it.

When intentional kindness is added to the list of skills to learn and practice in training sessions, it will become the most natural thing to do in any needed situation. When kindness enters your psyche, it becomes a way of life that brings joy to the giver as much as to the receiver. Remember how you felt after you extended kindness to someone in the past and the delightful expression on their face afterward. Didn’t it fill you with pleasure? 

 Kind Dining♥ coaching and training curriculum has long impressed companies on the value of educated, multi-skilled, including intentional kindness and food serving teams.  It is commonly understood that skilled staff remain with their company much longer than those without proper training.

Our training series is for your food serving team, both full and part-time, direct care workers, managers, and those you pull from other departments when you have insufficient food servers, as is happening now due to the pandemic. 

Our training sessions are experiential.

We engage trainees by using action, reflection, application, and performance. Servers build empathy to respect the aging process by using kindness to connect with residents one-on-one.

We teach personal and professional skills that improve the lives of your residents while improving the lives of those who serve them.

Be♥ Kind: Learning kindness as a skill becomes as natural as the sun rising in the morning.

Do you know a resident’s toughest challenge today?

Do you know a resident’s toughest challenge today?

senior woman alone looking sad at a window

What are the toughest problems older adults face in their communities today?

It isn’t the lack of a swimming pool or a 5-star restaurant.

Loneliness and isolation are at the top of the list. They are two challenges that became prevalent during the coronavirus pandemic and remain within many senior and assisted living communities.

The huge loss of family members and dear friends hangs heavily on elderly shoulders. But, these dilemmas can be met and reduced by training your food serving team and employees about kindness and friendliness.

Knowing how to approach older adults with these skills and adding care to that list is not a talent one is born with. It is a learned skill.

Once your team becomes aware of this resolution and practices being amiable, it can spread to include not only residents but also coworkers and administration. Needless to say, adopting these kindness-based skills will improve their personal lives outside of the working day.

Friendliness goes in hand with kindness. Adding these skills to your training and practice sessions is imperative.

The newly learned skills will set the ambiance in any dining room. It will create warmth to the table, reminiscent of the dining room in the home they left behind.

In turn, this improves their nutrition and becomes a connection of healthcare to hospitality, harmony, and happiness. All of these words lead to the word ‘care.’

It’s what is desired most in Long Term Care and assisted living communities. Allow your employees to care about their work, the residents they serve, the team they work with, and the company they work for. Let them commit. Once employees incorporate these assets from your training and discussion meetings, they will form a desired way of life.

Kind Dining® curriculum is uniquely designed to improve the lives of those working and living in senior and assisted care communities.

Hospitality is a universal language and core to skills necessary to your food serving staff.

Remember that your dining service is central to the success of your community. Kind Dining® training guides your food servers into being your company’s most valuable asset.

A few important facts to remember for now and the future are: mealtimes market your community, residents spend 60% of their day focused on mealtimes, investing in your employees is the effective path to culture change, the organization’s success, and kindness is a healthy habit.

Be ♥ Kind Tip: Remember that kindness is a healthy habit!

Does your staff help new residents feel at home?

Does your staff help new residents feel at home?

Multi-Ethnic Group Of People Holding The Word Welcome

I am delighted when friends of mine, knowing my passion for my work, bring personal stories and feedback to me from the retirement and assisted living industry. This is another recent one that reinforces the importance of my beliefs in the training curriculum I’ve created.

She began to tell me, “I was enjoying my visit with Ellie as five of us sat around the lunch table chatting about the ups and downs of our lives. We were stunned and speechless when the newest and youngest addition to the group said, ‘I have a hard time believing this is my last home.’ All eyes were on her, and I’m afraid my mouth was wide open.

She appeared to be 65 and had only recently moved in when her husband entered the Alzheimer’s unit in the next building. She moved into a 3-bedroom apartment on the fifth floor.

Four of the others, now in their 70s and 80s, had lived here between 6 and 15 years. Ellie was now in her third year and loved it from the day she moved in.

One of the ladies, a quick thinker, said, ‘I remember thinking that when I first moved here. I left my friends behind, and my family wasn’t coming to see me daily. I knew no one.

That all changed with the help of our dynamite staff! They introduced me to others they thought I would fit with and went out of their way to chat in the hallways when we met. They also asked brief questions, which people ask when they get to know you. It didn’t take long before I was raising my hand in greeting. Of course, I have my favorites, just like I have favorite nieces and nephews. You’ll see. It will come.”

Another of the ladies followed up with: “I hope you noticed how friendly the staff is to all of us. If you aren’t standoffish, and I know you aren’t, they are the first to make you feel at home. When you know them by name and a little about them, they become what I call – your in-house family. Familiar. Like your favorite pair of comfortable shoes.” She laughed at her joke.

Ellie said, “We promptly became your friends when Sylvia brought you to our table. She knew instinctively to bring you to us. Soon you will find more. Plus, when you fall into the routines and join the activities you like, you will feel more at ease. The staff will help you.”

Kind Dining® knows and teaches how the staff can be your community’s best asset. Using our training curriculum, they will learn how to incorporate small acts of kindness into their daily routine. One of those kindnesses is helping a new resident feel at home.

Be ♥ Kind Tip: It is easy to feel at home when surrounded by friends at the dining table.

Do your coworkers extend the hand of friendship to one another?

Do your coworkers extend the hand of friendship to one another?

Two chefs

Many friendships are formed and carried through long periods over the lunch/dinner table. ‘Let’s meet for lunch’ is a common phrase that indicates wanting to spend some time with a friend.

It’s nice to have lunch served to you but it’s the friendship that is the magnet. Even casual friendships are important to us. To share a meal with a friend, or potential friend, is a bonding moment. To hold business meetings over lunch forms friendships that break down barriers and continue to work long after the meal is finished and the table is cleared.

Forming friendships on the job is a vital part of having a smoother workday. We all know there are days when everything goes wrong.

Now picture going to that friend at work who is the very one to help you solve a problem and put you back on track. Friends who have been on the job years longer than you, can give you tips on how to do your work easier, with intention.

Sometimes a friend is like having an extra pair of hands. On the other hand, it is just as gratifying when you can be the friend to help your coworker. There is a particular feeling of attachment in your gut when you have extended yourself to help another. 

There is a spring in your step as you prepare to go to work because you know you will see friends to greet you, exchange the latest news, and bring you up to date on any events.

Having kindness about you is beneficial when working in a senior or assisted living where you will be helping residents in one way or another. That same kind of attitude is an invitation to your coworkers for friendship. You all share the same work reality and that is powerful in forming friendships on the job.

It is easier to understand a dilemma that arises and discussing it is uncomplicated when you know you are all immersed in the same field. That also applies when you want to share happy news or accomplishments.

Who could better share the joy than someone who knows the situation? Your coworkers seek the same goals you do for the residents. When issues are shared it builds a better working relationship. 

Unexpected friendships in the community create strength and a positive growth of self.

Kind Dining® training sessions open the doors for these friendships to form. Discussion and alliance as a team at work are encouraged.

Be ♥ Kind Tip:  Friendships with coworkers create strength and a positive growth of self.

Do your coworkers form friendships with residents?

Do your coworkers form friendships with residents?


Smiling elder lady with blanket and glasses listening to her nurse reading a book during free time

After an exchange of comments about friendships in today’s world, this true story came to me:

“UPS in my neck of the woods, otherwise called a neighborhood, many of us have formed an unusual friendship . . with the UPS driver! He is so friendly, considerate, and kind that even though we only know his first name, we all consider him a friend.

Many of us meet for lunch at the local café on Main Street in town.  We learned that the UPS guy has lunch there every Friday. To show our appreciation, one of my group of friends occasionally pre-pays for his lunch. The lunch prices run fairly close so it is easy to just cover a general cost, including a tip. He never knows which one of us does it.

It is funny, whenever I see the brown UPS truck coming up a street I’m driving on, I wave. I have no idea if it is my delivery man or not. It doesn’t make any difference. I’ve never met a grouchy UPS delivery person wearing the familiar brown uniform, yet they always cheerfully wave back! I wonder if they are hired for their smile instead of physical capability.”

Friendships in senior and assisted living communities affect everyone touched by friendship without even realizing how. When a food serving team member brings a tray to a resident’s room, carrying a smile, a happy comment like ‘Guess what good news I have for you today’ or a question like ‘Tell me how you are doing today’ the server is inviting the resident to respond with a pleasant comment. The room becomes light-hearted. Encouragement is introduced and no one even notices what is happening. The server is guiding the resident to enjoy the experience. This is a casual, but powerful, friendship at work.

This exchange of casual friendship can grow into much more. There can be trading of conversation that uncovers the background of one or the other learning about a culture unfamiliar to them. This opens the mind to a wider scope. It also builds trust between residents and staff members as it builds respect, one for the other. It works.

Friendships between coworkers are also a step in building a stronger foundation for the company. Friends help and support each other making their lives better. In Kind Dining® training sessions, follow-up practices and discussions of friendships will reinforce the training sessions. Friends enjoy each other’s company and sharing their experiences both on and off the job is part of that friendship.


Be ♥ Kind Tip: Friendships on the job can change the way you look at your work.

Is your staff aware of the importance of social interaction?

Is your staff aware of the importance of social interaction?


Senior woman in eyeglasses and her blonde daughter chatting by served festive table during family dinner

Joyce was talking on the phone with her long-time and long-distance friend David. He lives in the northeast, and she lives in the southeast in the same town as his mother. They grew up together, and though they married and had lived far apart, they always remained devoted friends by computer or telephone.

“I couldn’t keep flying down to check on Mom every month and worry the rest of the month about how she was handling being in a wheelchair at home. I was terrified she would tumble out of it and not be able to get up. Her friend Paula stopped in every week, but though I was grateful, Mom needed more supervision than that. 

I finally convinced Mom to come to live in an assisted living community near me. I now visit as often as I wish and feel much better knowing she is getting the attention she needs and deserves. And by the way, she loves it!

She had all the wrong ideas of what assisted living is in reality. There were too many old, out-worn ideas rolling around in her head. She knows better now, though.”

Joyce, who often volunteers to work with seniors who need help, replied with a question.  “What do you think has impacted her new life the most?”

“Believe it. She has become a social butterfly! She has met like-minded friends who share her passions, especially reading, word puzzles, cards, and board games. The computer was her only companion before. Her new group eats together nearly every day. 

Any signs of depression have disappeared completely. It always concerned me that she was alone too much before she came north. With the help of the dietitian, she has lost 40 lbs. in a healthy manner and can now walk short distances. Her arthritis seems to bother her much less, and her breathing has improved. One of her particular friends is a charming gent who is by her side often. ” David’s smile could be heard through the cell phone.

Surveys have revealed that the social environment benefits the lives of older adults. Socially sharing meals with neighbors with the same interests develops a support network. This aids in living a satisfied life. It creates the feeling of home in the assisted living community. 

Kind Dining® training curriculum teaches staff how to draw residents into the conversation, build the basis for relationships, and connect with residents. The knowledgeable staff knows active seniors will bypass depression by having sharper minds in friendship exchanges.

Elders who intellectually engage in mental stimulation with others lessen their risk of dementia. Daily or even weekly, sharing the comfort of the dining table provides necessary social interaction.


Be ♥ Kind Tip: Do your food servers use conversation to encourage elders? 

Does your staff know socializing tends to improve a senior’s health?

Does your staff know socializing tends to improve a senior’s health?

Three Adult Women Friends  Relaxing at the Living Area  Laughing Together While Looking at their Old Photos in an Album.

Healthy people who enjoy living solo know when it is time to be social and mix with friends.

Living in a senior living community makes it easy.

All a resident needs to do is step outside their apartment home and head for the dining room or to a planned activity event. The dining room is the central location for socializing on most residents’ days. It’s where they meet to talk about which events they plan to attend and discuss their hobbies and interests. It is a good place to discover others who share the same pleasures. It is also where the food serving team can assist residents in finding like-minded people to share a table with.

Any member of the staff is happy to suggest or guide someone who is new to the community or anyone who is naturally shy. Excellent training and practice enable a staff member the confidence needed to reach out to a community resident.

Surveys reveal that socially active older adults enhance their health benefits and are generally happier than those who spend too much time alone.

Choosing to become acquainted with others by joining a table at mealtime is effortless. A food server learns in training and discussion sessions how to help a new resident find the table best suited.  

The ideal assisted living community staff members have adopted a friendly persona as a way of life, so it is easy to encourage residents to be social by suggesting various activities. Many of these activities are offered to appeal to those without the physical strength to participate. There are board games, card games, Bingo, book discussion groups, sewing, knitting, singing, music, coloring, painting, and movie nights. Participating in these recreations will dissolve loneliness and improve a person’s reticence.  Meeting someone who enjoys the same events will create group friendships and a network of support key to well-being. It also increases the feeling of home.

Friendships play a vital role in buffering against negative effects of general health, dark moods, physical functioning, and aging. Intellectually engaged, mentally stimulated residents hold less risk of developing dementia when they participate in activities daily or at least weekly. They form self-identity and a sense of belonging. Family members can relax during visits, knowing their mom or dad is receiving care when they need it. Their anxiety can disappear, and they can enjoy the visit with peace of mind. 

Kind Dining ® training modules, now available online, teach the food serving staff in communities new ways to further the dining experience for residents.  Staff will learn to work to build a better food serving team and explore the science and psychology of dining hours.

Be ♥ Kind Tip: Does your staff understand the complexities of assisted living single residents? 

Does your food serving team feel they belong in your organization?

Does your food serving team feel they belong in your organization?

Group of people assembling jigsaw puzzle and represent team support and help concept Kind Dining Training

“I know many people, women in particular, will stay home with a salad in front of them rather than eat in a restaurant alone. I am not one of those people. I love it because I hear the best stories by listening in on what is being said around me.”  A writer friend told me this recently.

She is a strongly independent woman who also travels alone, apparently for the same reason. She goes to talk with strangers who teach her about their surroundings. This is the base for several of her stories. Many of those are about travel. She does this because she is a writer. When she wants to relax and just be herself, she gathers friends around her table and begins by pouring the wine.

As my writer friend knows, most people are not comfortable eating alone. The pleasure for them is sharing a meal and socializing with long-time friends and finding new ones. This is especially true in retirement and assisted care dining. Making the decision to move into a Senior Care community is a major change in a person’s life. Often the decision comes at an emotional time, after losing a life partner or an oncoming physical disability.

It is a time to be welcomed into a new, friendly social group. It is not a time to be lonely. The food serving team can help in a great way by doing small things. Start with a big smile and sincere greeting. Offer to introduce them to a table or group you know will invite them in. Senior and LTC communities are great places to spend time with people who share the same discussion subjects as you enjoy. It can be a carefree lifestyle designed for people of a certain age. I repeatedly hear “It’s the best decision I ever made!”

All throughout history it is reported that gathering around the warmth of a dining table is a way of getting to know another, build a relationship, even a job interview is often performed over the lunch table. Therefore, Kind Dining® believes it is essentially significant to build a powerful food serving team.

Our curriculum encourages adopting a culture of belonging, a training benefit to staff as incentive to belong to their community because their organization places value in who they are and the work they do. The same organization is investing skill development that works to reduce the epidemic of loneliness, isolation and instills a sense of belonging.  A team who trains together creates unity and builds that same sense of belonging.

Be ♥ Kind Tip: Encourage your residents to share the joy of the dining table with new residents.

What do your food servers see during the Holidays?

What do your food servers see during the Holidays?

Close up of green napkin and plates on holiday dinner table

Close your eyes, think of the Winter Holidays coming up, and what do you see?

Perhaps a Christmas tree in the background, hear Christmas carols being sung, but you ‘see’ family and friends gathered around a festive dinner table, no matter which holiday you celebrate. It’s the table that holds the warmth, celebration, camaraderie, and feelings of joy!

It’s about some foods that are only made on certain holidays. It’s the food that reminds you of past Christmases and loved ones of long ago.

Wonderful memories abound! It is a goal for Independent and Assisted Living Communities to recreate some of those treasured moments for their residents. It is in the power of your food serving team to help recall those memories and replace lonely reflections with the joys of today including newly found friends in your community.

The chit-chat your food servers initiate can result in favored recipes shared and specialty traditions being passed along to the chef for planning mealtime events.

Small, casual verbal connections between the food server and resident can result in making holidays happy replacing any feelings of the blues commonly experienced during this period of celebration.

These are vital skills taught in the Kind Dining® training curriculum that bring about important results that will linger in the minds of those on the receiving end. Resultant mealtimes are your company’s best asset and your mealtime servers have the power to make mealtimes memorable. Holidays are times when your food serving teams shine their brightest when feelings are tender, and when merriment is present in décor, attitudes, and at the table.

Setting higher standards in dining practices is a positive attainment. How your team performs at mealtimes and any time food and beverage is served, matters.

Kind Dining ® continually updates training to reflect the needs of food serving teams as traditional service changes to include new rules, regulations and suggestions that keep residents healthy and safe.

Hospitality and healthcare are still wedded together.

Kindness has always been a core belief in the Kind Dining® curriculum. New challenges in Senior Care Communities show committed food servers learning how to combine hospitality with healthcare using kindness, compassion, and competence as skills learned and practiced daily.

Our training sessions are experiential. We engage trainees by using action, reflection, application, and performance. Servers build empathy to respect the aging process by using kindness to connect with 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.

Be ♥ Kind Tip: Does your employee training include compassion and care?

Do you ever ask if training for all staff is really necessary?

Do you ever ask if training for all staff is really necessary?

gesture, greeting, charity and body parts concept - people waving hands

A friend told me about running into a woman she used to work with while she was out shopping. The woman looked terrible! She asked if she had been ill. “No,” the woman replied, “just tired of the same old job, the same old complaints, and the same old me.” My friend quickly decided to abandon her list of errands and share a cup of tea, cake, and lend an ear. Maybe she could help. Her friend was a nurse in an assisted living community and was burned out from too many hours, no one seemed to care, and she was trying to gather enough energy to look for a different community to work in. Normally she loved her work and couldn’t understand why she was feeling so run down. My friend knew immediately that a good training curriculum could turn her working life into a productive one where she would be happier and healthier.

Do you know that employees experiencing the oncoming feeling of burnout are more likely to take sick days and are probably looking around for another place of employment? Their taking sick days increase the workload for coworkers spreading burn-out to others without their realizing it. Replacing employees is costly and troublesome. Even before the Covid-19 epidemic threw assisted and long-term care communities into the employee crunch, management was aware of the burn-out syndrome. Pressure in service-oriented positions that grow worse from working too many hours without respite because you are needed doesn’t solve the problem. Being aware and facing the problem is the first step to repairing the situation. Scheduling flexible hours and freeing up the rigid routine would change that feeling of being in a rut. Allowing employees to have time off to tend to their personal responsibilities lifts that burden of weight that sits on many overworked shoulders. 

Training comes in to face and solve burn-out problems. Kind Dining♥ training discussions can recognize if employees believe they are being treated fairly and give them a chance to add ideas to improve their work and to express if they are being supported by their manager. This is vital to their mental attitude in the workplace. Kind Dining♥ training exercises help to reduce burn-out by teaching new skills, helping gain confidence, and helping find value in what your food servers and all your staff do. Your employees will learn how to manage their own behavior and improve their self-image leading to a happier, healthier life.

Kind Dining♥ training is now approved for 11 Continuing Professional Education credits for Registered Dietitian Nutritionists, & Nutrition & Dietetic Technicians Registered, as well as for Certified Dietary Managers.

Be♥ Kind: Do you know body language extends communication beyond mere words?