If You Care About Residents Stop Dumping on the Food

During my presentation Setting the Meal: Delivering mealtime service that exceeds expectations, I teach a free, easy way to improve perceptions about food in senior living communities: Make sure no one talks negatively about the food in front of residents.

cindyh-ANFP-Omaha-1During a break at the ANFP conference in Seattle earlier this month, a corporate dietitian from the audience told me that really hit home with her. Moments earlier she had received an email from a Registered Dietitian (RD) who works in her community. The RD asked if their company had a policy about not bad mouthing the food because she had just overheard a staff member saying, “this food sucks.” The RD and corporate dietitian were aghast.

Talk about learning something that is immediately applicable!

It’s an open secret that perceptions about food in senior care communities are dismal, but negative comments from staff have to stop.

Staff needs to remember they are working in the residents’ home. They wouldn’t insult the food while visiting an elderly relative’s home because they wouldn’t want to insult their loved one or ruin the meal for others. Residents in our communities deserve the same regard. They want to enjoy their meals and feel good about inviting family members and friends to dine with them. When they overhear negative comments from staff, residents’ perceptions of the dining experience are diminished and their appetites may be as well. Residents may even feel embarrassed for enjoying meals or inviting others to eat with them. Staff likely does not realize they are hurting residents by bad-mouthing the food, but they are, and leaders need to insist this behavior stops immediately.

Here are 4 tips for setting higher standards in your dining room:

  • Serve the best quality food your community can afford in ways that are as appetizing to residents as possible.
  • Implement policies directing staff to support the food.
  • Train staff to know how and why they must support the food.
  • Eat the food your community serves and invite your staff to dine in your community too.

If you need assistance creating a more positive atmosphere in your dining room, please call me at 503-913-1978. Kind Dining® curriculum is a proven method for changing staff behavior and improving outcomes in senior living communities.

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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