This month’s theme is Respect!

A few words from Rayne…

I grew up with the phrase “respect is something that is earned”. I’ve often wondered about this. How would a total stranger earn my respect? Does it imply that the person begging on the side of the road does not deserve to be treated with respect because he or she hasn’t earned it? I think not.

Respect is a complex social and cultural construct. When I grew up, being “taught respect” was a huge part of our upbringing, or at least what we were told by our parents. Phrases like: “never walk with your hands in your pockets” (my trouser pockets were even sewn shut!), “stand when a woman enters a room”; “give a firm handshake”; “look someone in the eye when you talk to them”, “don’t rest your elbows on the dinner table”; and ”hold your hand in front of your mouth when you cough, sneeze or yawn”. Yes, I know I’m giving away my age, but these were the things that were drummed into our heads. We were taught to “respect our elders” ‒ to never talk back, and always be polite to an older person. The mere fact that they were our seniors automatically made them deserving of our respect.

So what has changed? Has respect been given another meaning? Is there a new set of rules applied to what being respectful means? I believe that what we were taught had little to do with respect, and more with “knowing your place” and adopting certain behaviours to demonstrate your deference to someone else.

I believe true respect means affording the other person the benefit of your full attention, by being present when you are with them, mindful of them as a person and, in the words of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, “honouring the sacredness of their human spirit”.  Respect is not a few learnt mannerisms, it is a soulful connection with another person, even if only for a split second: the person begging at the traffic light, the elder who can no longer verbally communicate, the person cleaning the toilets in a public place, the guard who appointed himself to look after your car. No one has to earn our respect. We owe it to each other to be present whenever we connect, or at least to try our best to do so, especially in the era of technology and cell phones when we are at risk of becoming totally disconnected from each other.

Rayne Stroebel, Managing Director

Respect is an important value for us at GERATEC. Though let’s be honest, how many of us, on hearing the word respect, want to belt out Aretha Franklin’s 1967 hit ‘R.E.S.P.E.C.T’? But respect has a deeper meaning that we in the food-services department and units understand according of the letters that make up the word:

R – Residents

Our residents, who are the reason why we are in this business, are the very reason GERATEC lays emphasis on providing nutritious and suitable meals. We respect the fact that our residents have different likes, dislikes, needs and abilities, and aim to provide meals that are enjoyed by, and suitable for, all of them.

When we respect our residents, it comes across in the way we provide our catering services. Laying a table with the cutlery that a specific resident is comfortable with; warming a meal in the microwave to ensure it is piping hot, just the way Uncle John likes it; leaving the rice off the plate for Mrs S; giving warm vegetables instead of salads to Mr P; or giving Kirsten low-calorie puddings or fruit instead of the baked pudding … These are just some of the little extras GERATEC employees attend to daily and, in so doing, offer a respectful service to the preferences and needs of our residents. Time and time again, our units score highly when it comes to resident and client feedback on service.

E – Enthusiasm / effort

As any mom or dad will tell you, cooking a meal that satisfies all members of the family three times a day, 365 days of the year, is a difficult task. Now try doing that when cooking for between 70 and 300 residents daily, and each comes from a different background and is used to the way they, or their mom, dad, husband, wife, son or daughter, cooked their food. It is difficult challenge, but when our employees respect our residents enough to cook meals and serve food with enthusiasm and effort to cater to individual likes and dislikes, it becomes a challenge we love to meet. Collective feedback from the residents’ comments books shows that over 90% of feedback received on GERATEC’s catering units is positive.

S – Self-respect

Self-respect is something that is earned and achieved over time. When we live according to our own values and work within the company’s values, we feel good about ourselves and this has a direct impact on our performance in the workplace. This is demonstrated in our appearance and attitude.  Often, despite difficult and challenging home circumstances and difficult journeys into work, our employees are at work on time with big smiles on their faces, all dressed in their full uniform, complete with name badge. They are proud of their appearance and what they do. Employees will call a manager to taste the food they have made or to look at the puréed meal they have piped beautifully because they are proud of what they have achieved. Nothing thrills them more than recognition from senior GERATEC employees or from residents and their families.

Those little thank-you notes, the Facebook comments, the resident coming into the kitchen to thank the employees for their wonderful meal all make a big difference. They inspire our employees to be even better next time, and give their confidence and self-respect a huge boost.

P – Person-centred

Excellence in person-centred care is the essence of what we strive to achieve every single day and in everything that we do. Our menu design, special functions, dietetic interventions, coffee-shop offerings and many other aspects of our catering services are all planned and executed in such as way as to always place our residents and their needs first.

E – Encouragement

It is often that smiling face, kind word or gentle support given by GERATEC employees to a resident that can brighten up a day or help someone who is feeling poorly feel much better. Our employees are actively encouraged to get to know residents and form genuine and authentic relationships with them. It is not unusual to see or hear of employees within the catering units going the extra mile to encourage residents, whether it be to eat better, join in with special celebrations or just in general.

C – Choices

Giving residents as much choice as possible at meal times is crucial to ensuring not only that they are happy but that they eat well and are well-nourished daily. Research shows that having greater choice in what they can eat, and in when they can eat it, contributes significantly to residents’ nutritional status. So when Mrs Le Roux walks into the dining room an hour after breakfast time, our employees serve her with a smile. For example, when we identified the need for alternative options to stimulate the appetite of residents, various options, such as sandwiches, nourishing soups, melkkos, etc. were successfully introduced. The variety on offer contributed to improving the nutritional status of some residents.

T – Teamwork

Teamwork is crucial to the successful running of a unit, and to happy clients and residents. Respect is of the utmost importance in efficient teamwork. GERATEC prides itself on teamwork and this comes from the top down. Don’t be surprised if you find our Financial Manager and Operations Manager cleaning and slicing mushrooms for a function, an Area Manager cleaning blocked drains or a Project Manager slicing chicken for the kebabs for a braai. This is what teamwork means at GERATEC.

Teamwork is on display at all levels within our business. Recently, when the entertainment failed to show for a residents’ tea function, members of the catering team took it upon themselves to sing for the residents. Pulling together as a team so that “the show can go on” is how we demonstrate respect for our residents, clients and colleagues alike.

The examples above are just a few of the ways our GERATEC employees and Support Office team demonstrate respect every day and in every workplace.

Respect – small word, BIG impact.

Just Google the word respect and you’ll get about 864 000 000 results in 0,73 seconds. One of these results defines respect as “due regard for the feelings, wishes or rights of others”, which resonates with one definition of Person-Centred Care: “The individual’s right to choose how they wish to ‘be’” (Wilkins, 2003).

In the medical model we inherited in homes for older people, the system encourages carers to focus on the task and not the person. The mindshift to see the person – to hear their voice and see them as the unique individual that they are – brings meaning back into caring: for the older person and also for the carers.  

GERATEC has been working hard to ensure that respect for individual choices and wishes stays integral to the care rendered. It extends to areas such as religion, culture and language preferences, but also goes deeper by respecting the small yet significant individual choices: a male resident who wishes to be shaved before showering, not after showering; providing a cup of coffee and a rusk to a resident who chooses to sleep in; taking care to replace a resident’s lipstick with the brand or colour she has been using for years, rather than “any old red”.  

Thank you to each and every GERATEC employee, across all departments, who takes the time and makes the effort to show respect on a daily basis. You are World Makers by honouring individuals for who they really are.

Today’s economy is tight and when you work in finance, there are a number of ways in which you can demonstrate respect to those you work for and with.

At GERATEC, we live this value within the Finance Department when:

  1. we pay our supplier accounts on time at the end of each month;
  2. we encourage our Managers to compare prices between suppliers to ensure the most cost-effective purchase whilst making sure we maintain a high standard;
  3. we make sure our accounts and invoices are correct and up to date;
  4. we quote a fair price;
  5. we are innovative in overcoming difficulties created by the regular changes and increases in the market;
  6. we admit it when we have made a mistake and rectify it immediately.

One might expect the above to be self-evident, but be assured it is not always an easy standard to uphold. Still, it remains the standard that we challenge ourselves with constantly and pride ourselves on maintaining.

According to online resources, “Respect is a positive feeling or action shown towards someone or something considered important, or held in high esteem or regard; it conveys a sense of admiration for good or valuable qualities; and it is also the process of honouring someone by exhibiting care, concern, or consideration for their needs or feelings.”

Respect is a term that is personal to most people. Everyone knows what it means to them. And even those who struggle to define respect for themselves knows what it feels like to be disrespected.  If we keep this in mind it becomes easy to demonstrate respect. Simply by treating others like we would like to be treated ourselves, make them feel appreciated and special.

For someone employed as a cleaner in a home where older people live, respect is a value that needs to be lived every day. It starts with knock on a door, and waiting for an answer before entering. It lies in the way we greet a resident, and continues in how we care for their belongings as we go about our work in their home. We show our respect in the friendliness of our smile; in the way we speak to a resident and in what we say; asking after a resident, even we know the answer will often be a familiar list of complaints or ailments. We ask anyway and we listen to the reply with compassion.  

Respect is demonstrated in how we deal with tension or a disagreement with a colleague, a resident, or a visitor.  Our respect calls on us to stay calm and deal with the matter in such a way that we demonstrate our belief in the value of the person, even if we do not agree with each other.  

In the Housekeeping Department, employees understand how important it is to work together as a team to ensure the best care for the residents – and how important our own role is in the team.

During induction training with new employees, we discuss and explain the values of the company and how you can make these values part of daily life, as follows:

  • The first sign of respect is to listen when someone talks to you.
  • Reply when someone calls you.
  • Be punctual.
  • Recognise your colleagues’ strengths and compliment them on these.
  • Respect each other’s differences and learn from one another.  

We wish to welcome the following employees who recently started working for GERATEC:

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