Daughter: Father Losing Weight, Mom Not Eating

family-feedbackI’ve received a series of e-mails from the daughter of a couple who live in a beautifully decorated “upscale” community. She wrote asking for help to improve dining in the community her parents pay to live in:

My mother and father are residents of a CCFT. Mother is in independent living and my father is in assisted living. They dine together in the community dining room. They are both private pay with the total out-of-pocket cost for both of them around $90,000+ per year.

The food service and food quality is poor and deteriorating despite promises from management. We need help in determining how to draft a strategy for making the dining experience pleasant, tasty and nutritional. My father has lost 10 pounds in the past year and my mother, who requires a more bland diet, often goes without eating. Meals should be the highlight of the day—something to look forward to rather than the source of extreme dissatisfaction.

Sadly, I hear stories like this frequently. All too often, senior care communities spend their resources on decor, but neglect the most pressing needs of residents:

  • Food choices that meet residents’ needs and expectations
  • Warm, friendly service that builds community and helps residents’ feel a sense of belonging

Between the two, good service is the most important. As veteran Chicago restaurateur Doug Roth says, “Good service can save a bad meal, but a good meal cannot save bad service.”

Instruction in service basics, geared toward strengthening staff knowledge, confidence, and communication skills, can impact the collective psyche of an entire community, quickly and fundamentally. It is time providers recognize nutritious food and customer service should be on the menu at every meal.

To learn more about how to turn the dining experience at your retirement community into a major company asset, read: Hospitality for Boomers: How to attract residents, retain staff, and maximize profitability.

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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