This spring, Growing Together, a Dining Services program offered at Brookdale Senior Living communities nationwide, received an ALFA (Assisted Living Federation of America) Best of the Best award. The award is given to those senior living programs that “raise the bar of excellence”, and Brookdale’s Growing Together fit the bill.
The press release touting this achievement gave a brief summary on the program, which was designed to support Spanish-speaking dining services employees who serve at Brookdale Senior Living communities. Since English is the second language for many of these associates, Brookdale created a nine-week hospitality English series so the associates would feel more confident in their interactions with other employees, guests, and most importantly, Brookdale Senior Living residents. And, as the employees gain confidence in the dining room, the service to residents and guests improves dramatically, an important outcome for any senior living community.
Some residents serve as mentors for those enrolled in the program. Says 94-year-old resident mentor Francisco “Pancho” Chaves, “Teaching is a very rewarding career…Establishing a relationship with your student is equally important because relationships may yield fruit in the future.”
Similar programs are offered at communities across the country. As an employee of a CCRC (continuing care retirement community) outside of Baltimore, Maryland, I took piano lessons and received tutoring services in finance/accounting from community residents; other employees were tutored in English, business, and a range of other subjects. The partnerships were always mutually beneficial.
- Michelle Seitzer