03 Aug Nutrition Initiative Launched
Initiative launched to transform home care nutrition in Ireland. Connected Health Group has partnered with Dublin catering firm Carroll Food Services in an initiative designed to transform home care nutrition for older people in Ireland.
As Ireland’s fastest growing home care provider, Connected Health has identified a ‘huge deficiency’ in nutritional meals available to older people in assisted living situations.
As a result, a ‘Connected Nutrition’ pilot project has been launched to ensure that those in home care, who are unable to cook for themselves, receive not only high levels of nutrition, but also fine quality meals made from locally sourced produce, and a wide range of menu options. It’s envisaged that following a successful pilot, the service will facilitate simple online ordering with chilled courier delivery 24-7, 365 days a year.
When Connected Health approached Carroll Food Services to help drive improvements in meal provision, the concept struck a personal chord with Managing Director Kenneth Carroll.
Mr Carroll explains: “When my mother died in 2004, I asked dad how he would like to live and he said: ‘I want to live in my own home, with my own things and my own piano’. He’d been in the food and catering business since the 1960s, but when receiving home care, he was shocked at the poor standard of meals provided. One day he turned to me and said get rid of those lads, the food is terrible.”
And so, when Connected Health proposed a partnership for this pilot, he instantly recognised the added value in terms of improved quality of living for people just like his late father.
“I just got it. I did a lot of research in getting home care for my dad, with varying degrees of success. No company was joining the dots between a home care company and a professional food service provider.
“The Connected Nutrition initiative is addressing a modern need. More people now want to enjoy their retirement years in their own homes and society, I feel, needs to facilitate that.”
The initiative is based on data analysis following surveys conducted across Ireland by Connected Health – which delivers three million client visits annually. Ten older people in home care in the Dublin area are currently participating in the pilot free of charge and the response has been “very positive”, says Connected Health Director Ryan Williams.
Mr Williams adds: “This programme removes service users’ worries about nutritional balance, uncertainty over where their meals are coming from, apprehension around shopping and concerns about where ingredients are sourced.
“We’ve identified a real need to improve meals and the dining experience for people in home care and assisted living. We’ve found a huge deficiency exists in nutritional value, but it is also important to look at this from a quality, convenience and practicality perspective. ‘Mealtimes are among the most important parts of people’s day and we want to ensure those in home care can always look forward to the delivery of tasty, healthy, nutritious and varied dishes with appropriate portion sizes every day.”
Mr Carroll has specially developed the menus with the help of Dublin award-winning chef and ex-captain of the Irish Culinary Team, Derek Dunne – formerly of The Grey Door, Locks, Na Mara in Dun Laoghaire and The Glenview Hotel.
Mr Carroll adds: “Derek from The Chef’s Creation Food Company has come up with some wonderful dishes that offer great variety and high levels of nutrition.
“Rather than the traditional nursing home concept of a three week menus cycle, we created a ‘Selector’ which facilitates much more choice – it includes eight soups, eight lite courses, eight main courses, and plenty of vegetable options as well as a selection of desserts. An app is currently under development to bring the whole process online for easy access by both service users and carers.”
The initial research completed by Connected Health was important in informing the initiative. Mr Williams explains: “We found that 65% of respondents have someone else cook their meals and, interestingly, that 45% bin food due to portion sizes being ‘too big’, with 50% describing their meals as ‘a small portion’. We also found that only 21% receive a ‘Meals on Wheels’ service, while 12% are on a specialised diet. The average spend of respondents on weekly food shop is €64.”