Hallmark Carehomes
An honest interview with Rob – Regional Hospitality Support Manager

12 October 2020

An honest interview with Rob – Regional Hospitality Support Manager

An honest interview with Rob Byrom – Regional Hospitality Support Manager

We caught up with Regional Hospitality Support Manager, Rob Byrom, to find out what his role entails and what makes him proud to work in our industry-leading homes.

What does the role of Regional Hospitality Support Manager entail?

My role is to support all of the Hallmark homes in England with all aspects of hospitality. This ranges from the catering at the home to the housekeeping. We purchase quality ingredients for our kitchen teams to prepare and cook delicious and nutritious meals to suit the resident’s needs, which is an vital part of our service. It’s also important to ensure our front of house dining experience is of a high standard and is enjoyable for everyone. Ensuring we meet high standards of hygiene and food safety and working closely with the primary authority is an important part of my job, ensuring our food safety management system is kept up to date and exceeds professional standards and expectations.

I work closely with our Executive Chef Brian Lane, to support the chefs and kitchen teams within the homes to ensure they have access to the ingredients they need, menu ideas and support, plus chef development. We have a number of workshops throughout the year for Chef’s to meet, share their skills and learn more on specific areas from menu development to hydration, to chocolate to potato varieties.

I oversee the housekeeping within our homes too – from the cleaning of the home to the chemicals and equipment we use and the guidance on how to use it, ensuring our Housekeeping Policy is kept up to date – keeping our homes a clean and safe environment for everyone.

I work closely with our teams to create our Hospitality Standards. These standards are designed to set the foundation in our homes for key areas of hospitality and provide guidance and instructions on how to execute and follow the standards on a day to day basis. I work hard to ensure our policies, procedures and standards are understood and followed by our teams.

What initially drew you to the hospitality industry?

I was initially a labourer at a hotel, refurbishing three large hotel rooms. I became friendly with the hotel team and they offered me a permanent role working front of house, and I accepted! This role taught me the fundamentals of hospitality and just how important customer service is. Over the 18-months I was there I worked across all front of house departments from conferences, banquets, restaurant, bar and reception. I even had to jump in as breakfast chef once when the chef didn’t turn up for work. I then developed a passion for all aspects of hospitality, which after a long journey eventually led me to my role as Regional Hospitality Support Manager at Hallmark.

What does a usual day look like for you?

Each day is different, which keeps the role exciting. Before lockdown, I visited a different home every day to ensure the team are happy and have everything they need to meet and exceed our hospitality standards at Hallmark Care Homes, taking a walk around the home with the Hospitality Services Manager for spot checks, ensuring the standards are high and everything is as it should be – I am still doing this now, only virtually.

I speak to as many of the hospitality team members as possible, which includes the kitchen team, housekeeping team, Hospitality Services Manager and the Hosts at the home to make sure they feel supported. I also speak to members of the care team – as they too have a vital role to play when it comes to hospitality. Ensuring we equip every member of our Hallmark family with the tools to provide an excellent service is key. But of course, the residents are at the heart of everything we do, therefore when I am at a home, I enjoy speaking to the residents to collect as much feedback as possible. This includes all of the areas we’re exceeding at and any concerns they might have so we can strive to improve our hospitality services even more.

What hospitality procedures do you have in place to protect residents and team?

At Hallmark Care Homes, we always aim to exceed standards and expectations. Our housekeeping policy has a very substantial daily, weekly and monthly cleaning schedule for each specific area of the home. For me, this is a minimum standard and I believe our team members should be striving for excellence in every element of their work. This is monitored by visual checks, resident’s feedback and a regular check of the housekeeping evidence folder which holds all housekeeping tasks sheets to show what has been completed, when and by who. Part of my role is to work closely with our organisational Infection, Prevention and Control Lead to ensure that our cleaning processes are in line with the latest best practice and government guidance.

In addition to wearing PPE and other safety measures, we also use industry-leading products for cleaning to mitigate the risk of spreading bacteria and viruses. At the start of the pandemic, we invested in a technology called One Spray which will protect a surface from the Covid-19 virus for up to 28 days. It creates protective layer on the surface and as soon as a pathogen hits the surface, tiny pins within the layer will burst and destroy it. Lab tests show this layer does not lose its value when cleaned with our daily cleaning products. We have also invested in using One Spray’s Zoono hand sanitiser. This sanitiser works very similar to the surface spray and will protect your hands for up to 24 hours. During the pandemic, we have also added an additional anti-viral chemical, BS EN 14476, which has been tested against the sister virus of COVID-19.

What standard of hospitality do you aim for at the homes? What makes Hallmark’s hospitality offering special?

We aim for a hotel standard, whilst recognising this is not a hotel but the resident’s home. We make sure we provide a choice and listen to residents’ preferences and requests. Making people feel at home, with no request being too much trouble.

Each of our homes have a dedicated Hospitality Services Manager, and when undertaking the recruitment process for a new HSM, there are many things to consider. Working in care compared to any other hospitality environment is so different – we need to ensure our team members are caring, resident-focused and dedicated to striving for excellence.

HSM’s come from strong hospitality backgrounds with excellent training and induction into Hallmark Care Homes. We challenge HSM’s to continually push boundaries and exceed expectations. Last year we arranged for each of our Hospitality Managers to experience the very best in hospitality standards at the Ritz Hotel in London. This was a chance for the team to receive five-star service and consider how this sort of service can be replicated in our homes.

Kitchen Teams, Housekeepers and Hosts are all given extensive training during their induction process to the home to ensure they feel confident in their roles.

Hallmark’s Hospitality Standards is a guide. We work in the resident’s home, so we try and tailor everything we can to each individual resident. We of course aim to offer a great dining experience, however, it’s the small touches that count. It’s important to remember that everyone likes to enjoy their meals their own way. For example, we do not pre pour any sauces or gravy, this is served in a gravy boat for residents to either pour as much or as little as they like themselves, or if preferred a team member can pour it for them after asking where and how much they would like.

What makes you proud to work at Hallmark Care Homes?

Hallmark is extremely focused on ensuring we are one big family, including the residents and the team members. I am proud to work for a business that provides opportunities and supports their team members. In 2012, when I had very little experience, Hallmark gave me an opportunity to become a Business and Administration Apprentice. Having received training in various roles I became the Hospitality Services Manager at Bucklesham Grange in just three short years. Eight years later, I am now the Regional Hospitality Support Manager for Hallmark and I owe my success to the support and guidance Hallmark have providedme along the way.

What are your top tips for creating a great hospitality experience?

Firstly, get to know the residents – it’s important to know each individual’s likes and dislikes and to tailor the hospitality experience to meet their needs.

it’s also so important to support and look after your team and to listen to their feedback. It’s even more important to act on this feedback and ensure every team member has the resources they need to succeed.

Finally, always remember, the standard you walk past is the standard you accept.

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