There are several ways to make the dining experience for a resident in a retirement or rehabilitation center a much more pleasant experience. It always helps to think about how we would want to be treated when going out to eat. The resident deserves some special treatment during their meals.

  1. Be the “host” whenever possible. Think of your favorite local restaurant. The “restaurant manager” or owner acts as the “host” especially during peak times. This allows the manager to be visible, to welcome and to observe the room in action and to create a warm and inviting dining experience. When you can’t be there, make sure there is a designated staff member to be the problem solver to insure small problems do not get blown out of proportion.
  2. Identify staff objectives and hire accordingly. Hiring the correct staff is essential, but training the team to be #1 is just as important. Having untrained staff service customers can be damaging to your reputation. The importance of how each and every customer is made to feel cannot be expressed enough in defining customer satisfaction.
  3. Drive participation and customer satisfaction with regular promotions. Calendars and web sites are available that highlight ideas and ways to offer variety and novelty in menus and service.
  4. Update the “small touches” regularly. The dining room should be personable and warm. Use of flowers, interesting table settings, a welcoming entrance at the front door and tasteful holiday decorations can all create a special dining experience.
  5. Menus should be clean and appetizing. Table tents should be inviting and encourage interest. Specials should be frequent – even if it is an item from the regular menu.
  6. Embrace reasonable care. Practicing reasonable care in food service is essential. Care in relation to furniture, buffet service, general service, china, flatware, glassware and general operational practices. Keep in mind that this is the resident’s home.
  7. Great food presentations. Great “restaurants” have great communication among the kitchen, serving staff and management. Every menu item should look special to the guest.
  8. Overcome the “institutional food service” stigma. Embrace the “pride of ownership attitude” and be proactive, creative, and take immediate action as needed.
  9. Room Service – Provide room service when appropriate.
  10. Thank you – come again. Always ask the resident for feedback and thank them for their honesty. Remember your favorite successful hometown restaurant. The owner or manager is often at the door – greeting each guest individually and saying please come back again soon.