Why did you decide to become a CDM?
I became a CDM to gain the necessary knowledge to better assist me with providing our residents with the best nutritional care.
What are your main responsibilities in your current position?
I am in charge of:
• Managing my departments budget
• Food and equipment orders
• Monitoring residents’ weights to identify significant weight changes
• Preventing and stopping significant weight changes together with the IDT
• Maintaining Quality of food my department produces
• Training new staff within my department
• Maintaining a sanitary environment to prevent food borne illness
How do you organize your time at work to make sure you accomplish all your responsibilities?
My daily routine is almost never the same so it’s hard to plan. I usually start with a walk through of the kitchen and direct my team to correct any deficiencies. I then check the menu and meet with the cook to ensure we have all items needed to prepare lunch. Next I attend a morning meeting, while in the morning meeting I usually do MDS and progress notes as able. We then go into a clinical meeting where I make changes to tray cards if new orders are writing. After clinical I juggle all of my responsibilities and help my staff as needed.
What is an example of an innovative way you have made change at your facility and how did you implement it?
I implemented the “Cooking with Kyran” program as an activity for our residents and an employee retention program. I came up with the idea from talking with one of my residents that ran a restraint at one point in his life. Cooking is a part of everyone’s life in one way or another and I've given my residents and staff an opportunity to share their recipes with our building. We discuss what we are going to cook in our monthly Food Committee meeting, after we decide a dish to make we choose a date. Together with residents and staff we prepare our dish or desert and pass it out to our building. Our residents really enjoy this opportunity to share their favorite recipes and I always enjoy learning new recipes and interacting with my residents.
What was your first job in the foodservice industry?
My first job was as a Dietary Aide at Columbia Health Care Center.
Who has been your biggest mentor in foodservice and how have they helped shape your career?
My Reginal CDM Consultant Sherry Kaiser CDM, CFPP has been my biggest mentor. She is the hardest, most dedicated working women I have ever met in my life. She has a total of 41 years of foodservice experience in long term care (S.N.F), 38 years of management experience, 12 years as a Reginal CDM consultant and 27 years as a CDM.
She is the true embodiment of A.S.C’s "C.A.R.E Values" (Compassion, Attentiveness, Relationships, Excellence). Working with her over the years and seeing firsthand the difference she makes in the lives of all of our residents and staff has really pushed me to make that same difference. She constantly pushes and challenges me to better myself in our field of work. I can always call and talk to her about anything that troubles me and she always knows what to say or has advice to get me back on track.
This is not an easy job and there have been times where I was ready to give up. She has 39 buildings around Indiana, but no matter where she was or what she was doing she would always make time to come to my facility sit me down and talk to me. She has a way of giving me the raw truth about whatever I am stressed about that makes me see the root cause of my frustrations and always has the right solution.
It was after I worked with her that I decided that I wanted to do more with my life than just work to pay bills. I saw the difference that she made and I strive to make the same impact that I have seen her make. I then began working my way up in the Dietary Department learning all the positions and eventually getting the opportunity to interview for the Dietary Manager Position at Columbia Health Care. In my interview she told me that I was not yet ready to take on a facility of that size but she saw the potential in me to be a great dietary manager. At the time I was 20 years old and very eager to prove myself to her. Although I didn’t agree with her decision and was upset, I respected her wisdom and decided she was right because I had only scratched the surface of what a dietary manager does in long term care.
Thinking back now, I am grateful she made the choice that she did. I've learned so much since then that I probably wouldn’t have learned if I had rushed into it. I really believe I wouldn’t be where I am today if she didn’t take me under her wing and provide the guidance she has over the years.
Saying Sherry helped shape my career would truly be an understatement. Not only has she forged a passion for Food and Nutritional Services within me but she has also helped me grow into a better man, father and leader.
What are the biggest challenges you face in your position and how do you handle them?
The biggest challenge I face is getting my staff to understand the importance of our jobs in long term care (S.N.F). It can be a challenge to get my team to understand the big picture and how nutrition and altered diets affect our residents. In my monthly in-services I touch on this subject.
What is your favorite part of your job?
There are no words to accurately express my favorite part of my job. There is a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction when a resident comes up to me and complements the food I provide them. It’s hard to explain the look of satisfaction and true happiness I receive from some of my residents and even family members after they have enjoyed a meal I prepared.
How do you stay up to date with current innovations and trends?
Through magazines and word of mouth, networking with other CDMs, reaching out to my Reginal Consultant and Food Service director.
How do you envision the foodservice industry in the next few years and foodservice?
I believe as we continually progress in technology, I see new and innovative tech being used more in our kitchens and dining services.
What is your advice to those just getting started in the foodservice industry?
My advice would be to be prepared for long hours and hard work that takes persistence and dedication to master. You will not succeed all the time and it will be stressful with different challenges every day. But the most important thing to remember is never to give up. This field of work is not always given the credit it is due, but remember to focus on satisfying the customers’ needs and always put your all into it!