A friend told me about an acquaintance of hers who was widowed unexpectedly. Her husband had not been ill or shown any sign of the heart seizure that took his life. She was bereft. He took care of all the finances, maintenance of the house, and other responsibilities. She waited a period of time as her friends advised her to do, but had difficulty adjusting to single living. She did learn about paying the bills but was unhappy about the responsibility regarding the upkeep of the house, repairs, or anything else that related to making decisions or hiring craftsmen. After a year, the woman moved to a retirement community.
She didn’t hesitate to ask staff questions but hesitated about going into the dining room. She had not, ever, dined out alone. Her friends met her in restaurants for lunch before shopping and they invited her to their homes for dinner completely unaware of her dilemma. She didn’t cook, so she skipped mealtimes, sometimes eating a sandwich or take-out salad in her apartment. Finally, after discussing it with a staff member who encouraged her, she gathered enough resolution to go to the dining room for lunch. It was much easier than she expected.
A smiling hostess greeted her at the door, recognized her as a newcomer, and led her to a table set for five. It already had three people seated. The hostess introduced her as she pulled out the chair for her. She immediately sensed this caring gesture, nervously smiled at those seated, and waited for them to start a conversation. Which they did making for a pleasant, first-time outing to lunch in the community dining room. All went smoothly after that initial step that was made so much easier by an alert, enlightened hostess who anticipated a newcomer’s sensitivity. The hostess knew how she herself would feel in that woman’s situation. She used the basic message of the Golden Rule and gave service that she would want if their places were reversed.
Her friend found the staff member the next day, related her experience and thanked her for the encouragement she gave. The hostess found the same staff member and thanked her also, recognizing the important role she played in sending the new resident to the dining room. It’s another example of an enlightened teamwork in action.
Our B♥ Kind® Tip: You and your staff have an important role to play in helping residents overcome loneliness, isolation, and building a sense of belonging.