Derek Johnson, Catering Manager for Leeds Community Meals Service talks about the Home Food Baskets Scheme funded by Public Health and how it is helping to tackle malnutrition in the community.
This week is Nutrition and Hydration Week and one of the ambitions of the week is to end preventable malnutrition and hydration in our generation. A bold statement but there is a lot of integrated and collaborative work taking place in the city to work towards this.
One of the big challenges is the prevalence of malnutrition in the community amongst some of the most vulnerable people in society, the elderly. With national statistics demonstrating the highest incidence of nutrition related illness occurring in the community accounting for over 90% of cases (BAPEN figures) it is timely to share details of a project that is running in Leeds to help address this.
The Home Food Baskets Scheme is funded by Public Health, operated by Community Meals Leeds and delivered by partners in the community – British Red Cross, Leeds Teaching Hospital Trust and Leeds Community Health Trust. Plus during the development period the scheme has been assisted by the Royal Voluntary Service, a Neighbourhood Network and the Intermediate Care Teams thus demonstrating the breath and concerns on the access to food for those most at risk in the city.
The scheme provides a basic basket of food to over 65’s with no immediate access to any food or known support from a carer, however, just providing food is not always the solution, so the assessment for the basket and its provision is married to the need to identify the longer term solution for the vulnerable person’s food access.
In a hospital setting upon discharge the access to food or the lack of it was found to be one of the issues that could prevent discharge home. To address this, a smaller discharge pack was developed which could be taken home as the person left hospital, to get the person through to the next morning, when other community based services would commence. The work on the content of this pack has now been modified, and this week will see a redesigned pack come into use. The pack has been redesigned to provide a little more sustenance and allow services to come into place following discharge without compromising the nutritional status of the discharged person.
Health Improvement Specialist, Emma Strachan, explains why the food baskets are so important.
“The food baskets help older people who have suffered an illness or crisis get back onto their feet. They will have much-needed meals and snacks as they recover whilst also making sure someone will be visiting to check on their progress and looking at their longer term food options.”
Both the basket and pack contain further information about eating for health, drinking enough plus details of other services which can support a person at home with food and drink and other essential support.
For those working in the community, Home Food Baskets are held at 13 contact points around the city and are overseen by the Integrated Neighbourhood Team. In the hospital the discharge packs and some baskets are now a fundamental part of the Home from Hospital Service and have been seen as a vital cog in this mechanism and are distributed usually by the British Red Cross.
With food becoming part of everybody’s business in health and social care, the Home Food Baskets scheme demonstrates through the integrated working between the council, health and the third sector that this can be achieved and is a good reminder that food is a core part of anyone’s care package.
For more information on how to access the food baskets and the process of eligibility please contact Derek Johnson directly at Derek.Johnson@leeds.gov.uk