Robots are now revolutionizing the way senior living residents are served in the dining room, supplementing employment while enhancing life around great food! While robots are easing staffing challenges, Cura is not sacrificing the human touch. Robots allow our team members to spend more quality time with residents, performing tasks such as:
- Delivery and collection of meals, snacks, and beverages
- Handling desired location stops for specific tables in a dining room
- Expediting delivery of food from the kitchen to the dining room
Recently introduced at Providence Point, a Baptist Senior Family Community in Pittsburgh, PA, robots are improving the guest experience for residents as well as supporting staff every day! Manufactured by Bear Robotics, representatives from the company trained staff on using the robot, and programmed robots to successfully serve residents their meals in the Neville Dining Room.
Cheryl Torre-Rastetter, Cura director of dining services, shared that one robot helps servers with bussing tables during lunch, while a second robot helps the host escort residents to their tables. “The residents love the robot,” says Ms. Torre-Rastetter, who introduces the newest member of her team during lunch.
As one of the robots replaces the “runner” duty, servers can focus on taking orders. One of the robots even helped celebrate a resident’s birthday! “We were able to use the “Happy Birthday” feature which is programmed with the traditional birthday song to help us sing along. The newest member of the team even delivered the cake!” Ms. Torre-Rastetter adds.
A creative naming contest was held for residents to name the newest members of the team – Tipsy and AnneDroid are the winning names! The winning resident received a free buffet for two! “Our goal with the robots is to use technology to enhance the dining experience for our residents while supporting our staff,” says Robert Kocent, Executive Director, Providence Point.
With all of the robots’ capabilities, Ms. Rastetter projects that robots will save up to three full-time employees.
Chaska Heights, a Lifespark Senior Living Community in Chaska, Minnesota, is also home to “Rosie”, another robot that helps to transport meals.
As the pilot community for Lifespark, Chaska’s Rosie was introduced to remove steps taken from servers who spent time away from residents running orders back and forth to the kitchen. “Due to the shortage in labor, the server to resident ratio increased dramatically. Our goal with the robot was not so much to increase the speed at which the food was coming out of the kitchen, but to allow the servers who are taking the order to do their job more efficiently – fulfilling beverage orders and remaining in the dining room caring for residents’ needs,” says Amy Johnston, MS, Senior District Manager for Cura.
According to residents Ed and Loree, “The servers are happy because they aren’t so tired at the end of their shift or week. There is value in Rosie because happy servers mean better customer service, and we like to be waited on quickly.”
Rosie also streamlines back-of-the-house operations. Rosie is programmed to pick up plates from the “expo” station (the station between the line and dining room where a sous chef or food service team member will garnish and plate food) – which in some communities is quite a distance between the dining room and kitchen. “By having a designated person at the expo garnishing or making sure that sides and desserts are included with meals, provides support to the cook or chef so their focus is on preparing and plating food only.”
Up to 10 plates can be stacked on Rosie, and the GPS system is programmed so that these adorable helpers travel to all points of service including expo stations, and can navigate with ease throughout the dining rooms delivering plates to each numbered table.
Cura plans to use robots for parties, and special events and to eventually navigate elevators for room delivery!
For Cura the use of the robots is not meant to eliminate positions, but to lessen the workload, creating a more efficient and pleasurable experience for both residents and staff!