A good food charity has received a £1.25m boost to establish a special nutrition programme for the elderly.
The Soil Association’s Food for Life Programme received the funding to help launch an innovative scheme that uses good food to boost wellbeing and reduce isolation among older people.
Official figures from charitable association Bapen reveal that 1.3 million people over the age of 65 suffer from malnutrition, while Age UK found that two fifths of elderly consider the television to be their main source of company.
This project works directly with programme users to tackle these issues across three key areas in the UK: Edinburgh, Calderdale and Kirklees, and Leicester City and Leicestershire.
The charity will collaborate with local authorities, NHS providers, care homes, and voluntary organisations, in addition to 300 home care workers who will roll out the scheme in their own environment.
Around 600 care home residents are expected to experience the benefits of the scheme first hand through a unique set of activities that will put the joy back into meal times.
In addition, this specific scheme will feed into the Food for Life’s extensive network of 10,000 schools, to boost relationships between care homes and nearby schools.
Charity bosses hope the scheme will help tackle social isolation, in addition to boosting nutrition, by providing a range of engaging activities such as cooking, food growing, and shared meals to stop so many people eating their meals alone.
The Soil Association believes this programme provides a unique opportunity to show just how important food can be to improve nutrition, and tackle social isolation among older people.
Joanna Lewis, Food for Life Strategy Director said: “Good food has the power to transform lives and should be at the heart of everything we do. 1.3 million people over 65 suffer from malnutrition, placing significant strain on the NHS. Meanwhile, two out of every five older people say that the television is their main source of company. Good food and enjoyable mealtimes are important throughout our lives - but for older people they can dramatically improve health and wellbeing.”
Big Lottery Fund Chief Executive Dawn Austwick, was delighted to support the scheme.
She said: “Creating new opportunities for people to cook, eat and enjoy food together is a brilliant use of National Lottery funding. It’s great that this programme will bring together Food for Life’s schools network with older people and their carers”.
Nutrition and hydration week
The importance of wholesome food and fluid is becoming increasingly recognised across the health and social care sector.
Malnourishment affects more than a million people above the age of 65 in the UK, and is something that can often go undetected.
However, thanks to campaigns such as Nutrition and Hydration Week, the awareness of good nutrition is becoming more widely known, and there is now a wealth of guidance and advice for carers that can help them keep food and drink appetising and appealing.
Ensuring residents are hydrated is equally as important, and companies such as BRTIA Vivreau are constantly developing products that are tailored to specific needs.
These include ensuring maximum hygiene and safety standards, using water filters to achieve a purer taste, and creating instant boiling water taps to enable residents get a hot drink instantly (something particularly useful for dementia patients).
Nutrition and Hydration week runs from 13 - 19 March. Visit their website at nutritionandhydrationweek.co.uk to find out more about how you can get involved.