Do you consider meal times for your marketing plan?

Mealtimes are still your best marketing. Resident-centered food service is where your community quality shows through the strongest. The focus is still on the residents’ preferences and necessities whether making their meal choices from a menu or special food stations in each corridor that are being utilized now within pandemic guidelines of social distancing. The presentation may be different since dining rooms are closed but presentation matters and can be adapted to the individual. A variety of appetizing foods offered needs to be attractive to the eye and taste as fresh as possible. Person–centered care includes varied mealtimes, snacks offered by cart deliveries in off-hours, and availability to food at any time. The approach and sensitivity of the food serving team are still vitally important as many residents are highly unsettled during the restrictions of the day.

Kind Dining ♥ training teaches how to develop and improve communication between food server and resident that creates an open line in a relaxed atmosphere for the resident to ask any questions that concern them. Communication skills are not inborn but can be awakened and developed with training and practice. These skills improve relationships between staff as well as improving communication with residents. Good communication skills also provide the food server the opportunity for empathy with each resident, creating a bonding that was not encouraged previously. In these days of lockdowns and quarantines, food servers are a lifeline to the general news of the community. This bonding also allows servers to make decisions needed that arise at the moment with the endorsement of the administration. Trust in the food serving team is vital.

After years of finding ways to bring people together to the warmth of sharing a table, communities have mastered the challenge this past year of serving meals while keeping residents separate and safe, keeping their well-being in mind while still serving high-quality prepared meals. Some kitchens have arranged reheat meals the residents can pick up by walking a pathway created for them to avoid coming in contact with any other resident. The food serving teams have quickly adapted to serve residents in the best way possible with the new guidelines and restrictions while attempting to stay safe themselves. Combining healthcare and hospitality is still a priority.

B♥ Kind Tip: A positive attitude makes a big difference at mealtime.

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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