Maplewood Staff Ties One On

Employee initiative boosts dining standards one apron at a time at New Hampshire senior living community
by Kathryn Kindopp, B.Sc.P.T., NHA, Administrator, Kind Dining® Instructor, Maplewood Nursing Home

Years ago when we first started serving on the resident units, we encouraged staff to wear aprons. It didn’t catch on and it stopped.

Several weeks ago, our Staff Development Coordinator Assistant, Ada, had an idea. She grabbed an apron, just to see the reaction. Residents told her she “looked like someone from Kind Dining®.” That blew her away. But even better than the positive reactions of the residents were the positive reactions from staff, who wanted to wear one too.

So, we bought some new aprons, worked out a simple system with laundry, and Ada wore an apron again a few days later. We also talked about it at our Monday training.

Last evening, the staff who had just been trained took the aprons, wore them, and encouraged the other staff to wear them as well. Residents immediate reactions were positive and some staff asked if it would be ok if they got their own aprons, such as themed ones for special occasions. I’ve told Ada that I don’t want to put any rules on this at this point. I want staff to “run with it” and let’s see where this goes.

I love what is happening because it was not a “policy” or “procedure” from management, but an individual idea that is catching on like wildfire.

I keep giving my staff “homework” assignments and I love watching what they are coming up with on their own. Some are taking empowerment all the way, and others see this and follow suit. Best of all – I did not direct them to do anything specifically, nor am I telling them what to do. I just plant ideas, encourage, facilitate and support.

It’s just small steps but it’s giving staff ownership.

Republished from the January 2013 issue of Kind Dining® Connection. Don’t miss the March 2013 issue, we’ll be sharing more tips, ideas and information for building community in the dining room of your senior care organization–including more success stories from Maplewood Nursing Home. Get your free subscription to Kind Dining® Connection today.

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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