Do your food servers understand and use empathy?

Being a top-performing food server in a senior care community is complex and challenging at the best of times. During COVID 19 it is so much more. Add being alert to the residents’ emotions, having small chit-chat handy, and being cheerful and making sure they have the resident’s meal correct to the standard usual of being neat, clean, well-spoken, and efficient.

One more skill added to the list is having empathy, the ability for a food server to imagine being in the mindset of the resident they serve.  The resident may be stressed, lonely, feeling isolated, and abandoned. Feeling empathy is a highly desired talent. Kind Dining addresses empathy in training sessions.

Food server-to-resident relationships and server-to-coworker relationships often need a heavy dose of reconnection to company values. Empathy is often listed as a core company value in many senior living communities. Hanging posters to remind staff of these company values is not enough.

Encourage coworkers to see the extra effort their teammates are working under, to lighten the load by giving praise with a positive comment or cheerful, sincere compliment. This is part of building strong coworker relationships by showing empathy. The rapport we extend to each other is often a reflection of company values.

It is the company’s responsibility to hire a sufficient number of serving staff and give them the skills needed to perform at their top level. The administration that is aware of the food servers’ critical obligations can show empathy and extend welcome support. The absence of a server must not affect the quality of service to residents or overburden the other servers.

The team of servers must be allowed to give their top performance. They cannot do that if the community is understaffed. Other staff needs to be willing to fill in as food servers when an emergency arises when too many servers are absent. Other staff skills should be equivalent to the same standard of serving the regular food serving team’s skills. Quality of life and resident satisfaction is always the priority and must never be compromised. Kind Dining training prepares all staff for emergencies when their service is called upon. This level of training for all staff is what creates great companies out of good ones.

When the food serving staff uses their skills, tending to comfort and keeping the residents happy and content, especially under the strain of COVID 19, it is the duty of top-level administration to take note and convey their appreciation to the team. Sincere compliments that excellent service has been noticed is one of the best rewards a high-level administration can give.

Our B Kind® Tip: Remember, just by coming to work today, your food servers make a difference.

About Cindy Heilman

Cindy Heilman MS, DTR: Cindy Heilman has over 25 years of experience in enhancing hospitality, and food service standards. She is the CEO of her own company, Higher Standards LLC, and creator of Kind Dining® Training. Her unique background in restaurant ownership, in hospitality and healthcare food service, in working as a Dietetic Technician Registered and Healthcare Specialist at SYSCO Foodservices, led her to the development of her exclusive program that improves relationships and lives of aging residents through the dining experience.

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