Log in

SDA News & Posts

<< First  < Prev   1   2   Next >  Last >> 
  • Wednesday, August 22, 2018 8:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Senior housing is an especially difficult industry for attracting and retaining committed professionals, especially with the economy approaching full employment.

    The same can definitely be said for senior dining services, where hiring managers must compete for an increasingly limited set of potential candidates. Under the circumstances, finding talented chefs, directors of dining services and other senior dining professionals can be a daunting challenge.

    “The last time it would have been this bad was in the middle to late ‘90s” said Bob Raymond, vice president of procurement in dining service for Commonwealth Senior Living. “The unemployment rate at that point was just below 4 percent, just like it is now. So it was very, very difficult then. It seems to be even more difficult now.”

    Under the circumstances, senior communities must be smart about attracting the best professionals possible and keeping them excited about the work they’re doing. One way to do this is by connecting them with professional organizations.

    These organizations fill multiple roles. They offer continuing education that allows professionals to hone their skills. They offer a professional community for people to communicate with their peers. They might even offer inspiration to first-time senior dining employees who didn’t think they were looking for a long-term career.

    “If you want to engage your employees, one of the key ways to do so is to make sure you’re encouraging their development,” said Allison Duda, manager at Drive. “That includes providing an opportunity for them to join associations and attend webinars or speaking events.”

    Senior dining professionals find their community at the Senior Dining Association. The SDA offers a range of trainings for chefs, dining services directors, sales professionals and others. The association also offers webinars that are free to members, informative articles, a forum for members to share their ideas and concerns, and a jobs site.

    When Raymond looked into the SDA, he reached out to his 21 dining service directors and recommend that they join. All have. He hears back from them during their biweekly conference call.

    “The individuals that go on these webinars, they’ll come back and say, ‘Hey everyone, you should look at this one and you should take this one. I learned a few things about food cost. I learned a few things about preparation, meals, struggles that other companies just like us are having.’”

    Commonwealth provides memberships to its employees. Raymond sees a definite return on investment from the webinars, which are free to members, but he sees other benefits as well—enough that he expects to send a contingent to the association’s first conference and expo next March in Charlotte, N.C.

    SDA memberships are also a way for senior communities to recognize the skill and commitment that go preparing menus and meals.

    “There’s been a misconception for many years—‘Oh, it’s just nursing home food,’” said Schelley Hollyday, principal at the Hollyday Group. “That is not the case anymore. We have high-level food and beverage professionals. Quite frequently, we are able to get them from country club and hotel food and beverage departments because the level, the expectation of quality and excitement for resident dining, rivals what you get in those environments.”

    Duda agrees. “I think there’s a lot of people working in this professional who take great pride in the food that they prepare. I think having the opportunity to have this association provide additional education, it really is a development opportunity.”

    In addition, the association’s forum provides an opportunity for chefs and other pros to share advice, opinions and stories with their peers around the country. That engagement helps keep them from feeling isolated in their communities.

    “When people are attracting and trying to retain employees, employee engagement is often considered a fluffy topic,” Duda said, “but at the end of the day, engagement really does matter when you’re focusing on the staffing shortage and keeping good people.”

    Senior Dining Association

    August 22, 2018  Written by: Leo Williams 

  • Monday, August 20, 2018 6:57 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Many senior communities are migrating their dining approach from a meals-based plan to a flexible program, allowing the dining operation to become more efficient and residents to exercise more choice.

    Whether you refer to it as “dining dollars” “flexible spending,” “points” or by some other name, it is important to manage this rollout wisely.

    Join us at 2 p.m. September 13 for “What’s your meal plan? ,” a webinar that will show you how to transition smoothly to a flexible meal plan.

    The webinar will be led by Schelley Hollyday, principal of the Hollyday Group and a 25-year veteran of the senior living industry.  It will teach you how to value your plan and give you a preview of some of your more difficult decisions—for instance, will your residents be allowed to use their points to pay for guests’ meals.

    Other choices in front of you include:

    • What other expenses can your residents use their points on (beyond guest meals, these may include cocktails or items at an onsite store)?
    • Will you be issuing points every month, every quarter, or on some other schedule?
    • How will you approach rollover points?

    Schelley is a graduate of the Hotel School at Cornell University. She has worked with more than 300 senior living communities and continues to do extensive research identifying best practices and hospitality trends.

    She will present case studies of communities that have made this transition, pointing out approaches that worked well and approaches that worked less well. The webinar will end with a Q&A session.

    Schelley will also be on hand for a chat session at 2 p.m. September 14, the next day, to cover any follow-up questions that may be left over. That session will be open to the first 15 people who sign up.

    See here for more information: What’s your meal plan?  


    Members - Free

    Non-members - $39.00

  • Tuesday, August 14, 2018 6:58 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Lowering your turnover rate is a noble goal to have.  But, believe it or not, learning to embrace turnover will have a positive impact on employee engagement and even help you reduce your turnover percentage.  What does it mean to embrace turnover?  Stop wondering how long an employee is going to stay, and start focusing on opportunities to support an employee in reaching their goals.  Don’t tip toe around it.  There is immense power in saying, “I would love it if you chose to stay here for 3, 5, 10 years, but I know that may not be your plan.  That’s ok!  Tell me about your goals while I DO have you here so we can discuss how I can help you achieve them.”  Accept that you are often a stepping stone to the next thing, and be willing to offer them opportunities to develop and hone their skills while you have them.  You will find yourself with employees that are more engaged, loyal, and fulfilled.

    Katie Griffith is Principal at Bright Solutions (brightsolutions.co) helping senior living communities take a strategic approach to evaluating and implementing technology. Katie@brightsolutions.co   (770) 714-4306

  • Friday, August 03, 2018 9:54 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Katie Griffith is Principal at Bright Solutions (brightsolutions.co) helping senior living communities take a strategic approach to evaluating and implementing technology. 

    Katie@brightsolutions.co   (770) 714-4306

  • Tuesday, July 31, 2018 9:57 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

  • Friday, July 20, 2018 2:04 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Article by: Monte Pedersen, Principal of The CDA Group 

    It’s a well-known fact in senior living and other comparable industries that retaining quality employees is a significant challenge.  Let’s face it, constant turnover costs operator’s money, detracts from providing quality service and causes unnecessary pressure on other quality, long-term employees.

    So how do we solve for this seemingly never-ending issue?

    Almost in unison we shout “more money!” which can certainly help but, is ultimately, not the answer.  Research has shown that money is not even in the top five criteria when analyzing job satisfaction.  The real answer to creating job satisfaction, motivation and long-term employee engagement, according to Forbes magazine lies in three things:

    1) Autonomy—employees who are autonomous, govern themselves and have a say in what they do and how they spend their time.  There is a direct correlation between having an autonomy-supportive manager and well-being on the job, compared to having a controlling manager which tends to de-motivate employees.

    2) Connecting with Others—again, evidence shows that having high quality relationships at work drives happiness, engagement, motivation and over all well-being.  In short, we need to be creative in how we communicate, listen effectively to employees, facilitate employee success through guidance, recognition and support and build trust by challenging and following through on commitments.

    3) Competence—we need to place employees in the proper roles, finding the “optimal” balance between boredom (the job is too easy) and anxiety (the job exceeds capabilities).  When we properly place employees, we have found their “sweet spot” where each is challenged, but not overwhelmed and they are comfortable with their position and its expectations.  When you don’t have to worry about “doing something wrong, you are better able to focus on your purpose”.

    So, the next time we take up improving employee retention as an initiative, don’t forsake compensation and benefits but, also take a closer look at what really drives employee and job satisfaction. Create a set of core values around what makes a great employee and put those values to work for your community.  You may be surprised and pleased at the outcome. 

  • Monday, July 16, 2018 7:34 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    When you’re lucky enough to get a career-minded employee, make sure that person has a reason to stick around.

    By letting them see a career path within your organization—complete with supportive management—you take a serious step toward ensuring continuity in your operation and ending the revolving door of temporary workers.

  • Monday, July 02, 2018 8:59 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

  • Thursday, June 28, 2018 1:51 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    Daniel Spicer, director of dining and culinary operations at Omaha-based Immanuel Communities is building a dining program that puts residents first. Overseeing eight independent/assisted living, two memory care, two long-term care and three PACE® center dining operations, Spicer and his team have made Immanuel’s dining program all about choice. 

    Baby Boomers have entered retirement living and have not only demanded services and amenities never before seen in senior living, they’re demanding extensive and high-quality choices on one of their top concerns—food. “Like never before, residents are demanding choices,” said Spicer. “Residents want to know if we’re using local ingredients, fresh produce. They want to know we’re offering healthy choices, diversity in our cuisines and on-demand choices.” 

    It’s this choice-driven demand that inspires Immanuel Communities’ multiple dining venues, crossing two states and 14 communities and centers, to take a different approach to senior dining. Spicer and his team, over 200 employees led by himself and corporate chef, Cherise Eckel, focus their efforts on making resident dining as much about the experience as the food. 

    “Resident quality dining continues to lead our efforts,” said Spicer. “We’re turning to the hospitality industry for inspiration on food experiences for residents across Immanuel’s communities and centers.”

    Spicer’s mission of revolutionizing traditional nursing home fare at Immanuel Communities continuously evolves. “Food is one of the most important things to the residents,” he said. “Our mission leads us to focus on new trends and high quality because we know the kind of joy and happiness food can bring.” 

    Learn more about Immanuel Communities at Immanuel.com

    Photo: Cherise Eckel, Corporate Executive Chef and Daniel Spicer, Director of Dining and Culinary Operations. 

  • Wednesday, June 27, 2018 11:53 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    (Pictured Above: Wellington residents taste-testing the dessert options)

    CHESTER COUNTY, Penn. (June 27, 2018) – West Chester-based senior living community, Wellington at Hershey’s Mill, hosted an Iron Chef-like baking competition this week. Dining staff members competed in a bake-off for a chance to create a signature dessert that will be added to the community’s menu. The contestants put a unique spin on the classic cookie, and residents and staff tasted and voted for their favorite. The Lemon Blueberry Cookie won with an overwhelming amount of votes, followed by the “Brookie” and “ChocToffee.” The new Wellington Signature Cookie will be distributed during events and outreach. “The event was fighting the cliché that senior living community’s food is subpar,” says Douglas Buttner, executive director, Wellington at Hershey’s Mill. “Wellington prides itself on offering inspired, healthy and delicious dining options.”

     About Wellington at Hershey’s Mill

    Wellington at Hershey’s Mill is a Benchmark Signature Living Community that offers independent living, personal care, skilled nursing and rehabilitation services. Wellington is a leading provider of senior living services located in the heart of scenic, historic Chester County, Pennsylvania. For more information, visit wellingtonretirement.com. For more event photos, visit Wellington’s Facebook Page.
<< First  < Prev   1   2   Next >  Last >> 


Copyright © 2017 - 2022 Senior Dining Association INC.- All Rights Reserved.