The Importance of Your Dining Room

Arlene – the state surveyor – sat down to interview me, and it changed how I could make a real difference. I had spent the first two weeks on the job organizing the inter-workings and cleaning of the kitchen, reading the notes from the nurses on each resident’s dietary information.

“Why is Ms. Anderson on a puree diet?” she asked.

I rose to the occasion and answered, “because Nurse Betty said so, you know they give you these little cards with all the dietary information on it.”

“That is not a good enough answer,” she said, stunning me. “You need to know Ms. Anderson well enough to answer that question yourself.”

I was thinking, ‘no one told me that.’ Arlene was stern, but kind and committed in that moment to making me feel valued. She called me to be an equal partner in the resident’s care.

If I could commit to change, by feeling valued, I continued thinking, and finding a new sense of purpose, so can anyone else. Arlene had called me to do something that was outside my job description to really know the residents, learn to work on equal footing with co-workers from all departments, because all people matter.  We each have something to contribute.

Person-centered care is now mandated in an effort to ensure that quality of life is maintained as high a level as possible for every resident. Surveys state that residents spend 60% of their time focused on meals. Their anticipation in dressing for the social end of it, eating food they want,

visiting with residents and family and enjoying discussions on other aspects of the community day.

Mealtime touches the emotions. Residents anticipate being served in a courteous manner by those who have a positive attitude and are socially adept. Serving techniques need to be correct in a room that exudes ambiance to enhance the appetite. How meals are served matters!

Kind Dining ® training is necessary because residents, due to their age, were probably raised in a home with proper table settings and social manners. If the serving staff is of a younger generation, in their first job, or from a different culture who have never served meals before,  they may not be aware of these important, competent skills of serving in a more person directed way.

Remember, happy diners make happy residents who will recommend your community to their friends and family.

B♥ Kind® Tip: Think about what life is like for your residents. How can you make mealtimes more satisfying for them?


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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