What makes your residents truly feel like they belong to your community?

Once the experience of moving into an Independent Living Community happens, the older person has found a place to belong, enjoy, and begin a new chapter in life. There comes a time to let younger families take care of house maintenance, repairs, and household responsibilities. It’s time for the elder of the family to step into the hustling, bustling center full of new friendships to form fresh opportunities and join in the day’s events.

Today’s independent and assisted living communities are designed to enhance people’s quality of life. A place where they happily belong. A typical day begins when the person chooses whether to sleep in or meet the ‘pre-breakfast club’ for coffee in the dining room, where they meet daily at the same table. There is always room for a “newbie.”  Afterward, some will stay for breakfast, and some will go to their rooms. The person serving the meal is a member of the food serving team and greets everyone with a smile. She knows who takes cream and sugar in their coffee and who drinks only tea while greeting each one by name. The group will discuss last night’s events and plans for the coming day. 

The residents realize that the server also belongs to this group because she loves her work, the community, and the company that hired and trained her. They invested in her by teaching them the skills needed to be an educated, competent, and a caring food-serving team member. She is a young woman who plans to remain with this community. She feels confident that she belongs here.

Kind Dining♥ curriculum coaches your staff in the skills necessary to connect personally with the residents they serve. These connections will reverse any feelings of loneliness left from the recent pandemic and create the confidence of belonging in your community. The easiest and most logical place to begin this is with meal times. It may take practice and reminders for your food-serving team to know personal connections are more important than a task waiting to be completed. Encourage your team to understand empathy and the aging process and how it affects older adults, to add kindness to their list of skills along with the basics of serving meals and beverages. Continue their lessons, practices, and discussions while instructing methods to show you care.  The more knowledgeable your food serving team is, the more the company can depend on them to love coming to work daily.

Be♥ Kind: Social skills when serving meals are more important than the basics.

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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