Food is the simplest pleasure in life. That’s why the dining experience is a critical part of how senior living communities delight their residents and attract new ones. The problem is that many communities struggle to consistently provide meals that residents love.
CHRISTUS St. Joseph Village, a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) in Coppell, Texas, found themselves in this situation and decided to make a change. They partnered with HHS to enhance the dining experience for their residents and improve the work environment for their team members.
They had four goals for the new senior dining program:
1. Improve leadership support
2. Create a positive work culture
3. Increase resident satisfaction
4. Enhance the dining experience
CHRISTUS St. Joseph Village had two challenges:
• Team member engagement
• Food quality
Because the kitchen lacked a dedicated manager, there wasn’t a strategy in place to create a positive work environment or properly train team members. As a result, the team suffered from a negative culture and high food and labor costs.
They also wanted to improve the overall dining experience for their residents. Instead of having limited menu options and relying on frozen foods and canned goods, they wanted a diverse menu that used fresh ingredients.
The Work Environment
The first thing HHS did was define roles and responsibilities. This made sure each team member knew exactly what they were responsible for during each shift.
Next, HHS launched a culinary training and development program. This allowed team members to improve their skills and grow in their careers.
The team also began having daily huddles to go over best practices, safety tips, and other performance goals.
Lastly, HHS began holding team member recognition events to make sure team members felt valued and appreciated for their hard work.
Programs, procedures, and policies are necessary components of any operation. But without a leader who can motivate the team to implement and carry out those things, they aren’t helpful.
That’s why HHS made sure to provide CHRISTUS St. Joseph Village with a talented and proven leadership team.
Here’s what the team included:
• A director to oversee the entire dining program
• An executive chef
• A sous chef
• A dining room manager
• A house manager who was promoted from an hourly position
Senior dining services are only as good as the leaders in place. These organizational changes gave CHRISTUS St. Joseph Village the resources they needed to improve both resident and employee satisfaction.
At the end of the day, a successful dining program means consistently putting a tasty and nutritious meal on the table. HHS’ approach to improving food quality was simple:
• Use a catalog of recipes for consistency
• Provide a diverse, chef-inspired menu
• Use only fresh, quality ingredients
• Get feedback from residents to know what needs to be improved
How well did this work? Here's what one CHRISTUS St. Joseph Village administrator had to say:
“I receive positive comments every day, and now I don’t receive any negative feedback. Resident satisfaction has improved exponentially.”
As a reminder, here were the goals set out at the beginning of the HHS and CHRISTUS St. Joseph Village partnership:
• Improve leadership support
• Create a positive work culture
• Increase resident satisfaction rates
• Enhance the overall resident dining experience
HHS measured the success of these goals through anonymous employee and resident surveys. Here were the results:
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