How can you make mealtimes memorable especially for guests, single and widowed seniors in your community?

The niece of an acquaintance was telling her experience of being a guest and her first dinner with a friend in a senior retirement community recently. After stating how surprisingly wonderful the food was, she mentioned the service. The server was a young college student working her summer between semesters. She knew this because the girl told them, along with her dreams of a future, lack of money, complaints about working in the dining room and how she planned to break off with her boyfriend. The niece felt the server completely overshadowed what could have been a perfect visit with her friend. She said she didn’t expect good food but got it and she did expect good service and didn’t get it. Professionals and experience food servers know that good service can save a bad meal, yet a good meal cannot save poor service. The memory of it remains.

The young lady wasn’t crude or rude she just didn’t realize how disruptive her behavior was at the table of friends. This behavior is no longer acceptable in senior retirement communities. Residents are demanding respect and they are receiving it. Finding a table to sit where a single or newly widowed resident feels comfortable isn’t always easy in some dining rooms. It is hard for many seniors in that category entering a retirement community. To attempt sitting at a table already seated with two or three couples is a double dose of loss. It is smart for a community to have several tables that hold an uneven number of seats for that purpose.

Teaching food servers to be alert to the single residents entering the dining room and helping them to find a suitable place for them is a wise move. Your food servers will sense fulfillment in helping, the senior will feel confident that he/she is wanted and the community can add another bonus in their favor.

Kind Dining® coaching guides food servers to be aware of single diners, to greet seniors when they enter the dining room, to speak to residents by name, to use small courtesies that are noticed by senior diners and to say a pleasant farewell when residents and guests leave. These are the marks of good coaching, encouraging food servers to be aware and in control of their responsibilities in giving focus to the residents in the community.

Our B Kind® Tip: Practice your Kind Dining® skills every day; they will soon come naturally!

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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