Can robots replace your food serving team?

Already many stories have come out of our physical distancing for more than a month now. One I heard recently concerned a woman’s husband who was ill but not with the symptoms of the novel coronavirus. The husband didn’t have a cough at all, or fever, muscle pain, chills, loss of taste or smell, or any shortness of breath. He had swollen glands and a sore throat just as he had the previous year. When his wife called the doctor, he said, “With the present situation being what it is, do not come to the clinic.”  He gave her an appointment time when he would pay a visit via online video. Sitting in bed, in front of his computer at the appointed time, the doctor’s image appeared and went through the usual routine, say ah, turn your head so the doctor could see the obviously swollen glands and bingo. The visit commenced with a prescription sent to their pharmacy of choice.

This was modern technology put to good use just when it was needed. Don’t panic. Your food serving team will not be replaced by robots. The personal presence of a ‘Good Morning!’ is cherished by residents. In the times we are living in now, many are craving a hug from a friend or family member they cannot be with.  We must stay the required 6 feet away when outside the home. A handshake has long been a first indication of meeting a stranger and knowing instantly whether this stranger would become a friend. Times are changing. 

The serving team that has been well trained knows the importance of a familiar face or voice and how comforting it can be to residents sequestered in their rooms. To address the person by name and make small talk is a lifeline to many residents, aside from their computers and cell phones. Modern technology keeps us in touch with the outside world, but humanity needs a personal connection, i.e. a pat on the hand, a flower on the food tray, a reassurance that dark times will end.

Many of these personal connections necessary to keep residents contented, comforted, and free from fear, came from the hospitality customs offered for centuries. It is the same hospitality Kind Dining® has been teaching since the beginning. People are not born with these skills but once they become aware of them and how easily they can learn them with the right instructors, they can practice them until they come naturally. The food serving team is the lifeline of the senior living community in sickness, in health, and in physical distancing times such as we are living in today.

About Cindy Heilman

Cindy is the founder and owner of Kind Dining®, which she began in 2006. She’s traveled across the country and Canada working with and training senior living communities that want to create an exceptional dining experience for their residents and staff. In addition, she certifies select professionals in her Kind Dining® philosophy and provides tools, now in an eLearning format, that make learning stick and help people put insights into action. As a result of her work, clients often share their staff has a new sense of purpose, get along better and keep their focus and energy on what matters most. In fact, she wrote a book, Hospitality for Boomers on how to attract residents and keep good team members. In her free time, she enjoys walking Oregon trails and cheering on her favorite soccer teams, the Portland Thorns and Timbers.

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