5 Essential Characteristics of a Great Senior Dining Program System

four adult kitchen cook staff wearing chef hats smiling confidently, 3 men and 1 woman, standing shoulder to shoulder in a commercial kitchen, standing in front of stainless steel cabinets, facing viewer, standing shoulder to shoulder

Do you want to discover the secret to a worry-free dining-program? Put a system in place that ensures you meet standards for success, and allows for continued refinement as time goes by, and you'll get there.

Each section of this article guides you through five essential characteristics of a great dining-program system. (Hint: if you don't have time to read this - download a pdf version of this article)

1. Standard operating procedures (SOPs)
  • The first step in developing an SOP is outlining the areas or functions that are necessary to provide and support your service to the customer. In the case of a dining program, these functions would likely include items like Meal Service, Sanitation, Budget, Staff Development, or  Clinical/Nutritional Assessment
  • Once you have identified the functions of the dining-program, you then identify the objectives that the function meets. For instance, the objective of Staff Development would be to produce personnel that are able to perform their jobs competently.  Canva Design DAEXEyXVpfU
  • The next step is to define how you know if the objectives were met successfully by developing standards. In the case of Staff Development, this may include an item like a competency checklist. 
  • After standards are defined, you outline what tasks are required to achieve the objectives and the steps that make up each task. A recipe is a great example of this final stage. A recipe gives you a standard by which you know the food is ready, such as reaching an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, and the steps required to get to your product

2. Schedule

Now that you have an overarching detailed list of functions, objectives, standards, tasks, and their associated steps, you are prepared to create a schedule as to when those items must occurThe real key to successful execution of dining operations is ensuring the timely completion of things like:

  • menu creation
  • food purchasing
  • cleaning
  • food preparation
  • meal ordering
  • cooking and delivery

Begin by defining when the service is needed by the customer, and then work backwards. If you find that any area of the operations is consistently late, look further upstream to identify when pre-requisite actions can be accomplished sooner.  

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3. Training program

With a schedule and SOP in hand, you are now ready to develop a training program, both of which are crucial to set your team up for success.

Staff need to understand what is expected of them as well as how those standards are to be met. This will help them to feel competent and confident in their roles. A training program ought to include the following five steps:

  1. Explanation
  2. Demonstration
  3. Practice
  4. Evaluation
  5. Practice again

By implementing continuing education, you will enable your team to retain what they have learned and help them grow into positions of greater responsibility. At the end of the day this helps accomplish your goal of Staff Retention and lends to an increased ROI.  

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4. Monitoring system

The best laid plans will always have hiccups in execution. That is why it is imperative to have a way to monitor how your SOP and Schedule is being implemented.

At Crandall, depending on the care type of the community, a consultant will conduct surveys and audits to gauge how well policies and procedures are being followed. Implementing an audit and survey system will provide you invaluable business intelligence on your operations. These can be done monthly or quarterly depending on the level of impact an ill-performed operation would have on service.  

5. Quality assurance and improvement system  

Data is only valuable if it can be used. Crandall makes data actionable by defining triggers and trends.

You do this by defining key performance indicators and metrics to score those indicators. For example, if you create a sanitation audit with a scoring system, you can set triggers in place that if an audit scores beneath a certain threshold, a leadership meeting occurs to identify root causes, fixes, and an implementation plan, as well as the next accountability date.

By keeping track of audit scores over time, management can identify trends in communities. If a certain area or building consistently scores higher than other, or lower than others, these outliers can be studied to identify recommended practices or pitfalls to avoid.

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In conclusion - while developing a comprehensive dining program system for your operation is a step-by-step process, it is worth the time and effort in the long run!   

You may find it more cost effective to work with Crandall's professional staff & our proven systems used by more than half of the top 20 senior living companies in the U.S. Have questions or want a free demo? Click here to get the conversation started!

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