Food Train research looks at impact of service for elderly at home

Food Train has rapidly expanded and re-designed its services to support older people to ensure that they are food secure and socially connected at home.

Now, new work with the University of Glasgow (UoG) has detailed its impact and given thoughts for the future.

The charity overcame a number of challenges at the start of the lockdown, including an “exponential” increase of referrals (51%) at the same time as a loss of 31 per cent (250) of volunteers in its shopping service as they were forced to self-isolate themselves.

A joint piece introducing the report stated: “The charity has adapted by rapidly prioritising scaling up the shopping service, re-deploying staff to more critical operational roles and moving to contactless payment to minimise the need for physical contact with the older person.”

A new service, Food Train Connects, extended support to other local authority areas to reach others at greatest risk.

The shopping service increased by 66% – and is expected to keep rising – and 548 new volunteers were enlisted from “all walks of life”, including university students.

That volunteer support and measures such as the rapid, cost free processing of PVG clearance for new volunteers was the single most important factor in scaling up those services.

The work with University of Glasgow and the Eat Well Age Well Project – in conjunction with Food Train – has begun to evidence the links between physical health and social factors such as isolation, feelings of control and social connectedness.

It looks at the impact of the Food Train service for older adults at home, as they relate to outcomes spanning nutritional (malnutrition), physiological, psychological wellbeing and social domains.

This will in turn inform policy where legislative practices move Scotland towards becoming a ‘Good Food Nation’ (Scottish Government, 2018).

The introductory piece added: “We can and must do more for our isolated older citizens if we are to be considered as a compassionate society. We will continue to do everything we can to help older people live flourishing healthy lives as they age well at home.”

To read more on the project click here: covid-19-and-food-train-more-food-security-kindness-and-dedication-to-vulnerable-older-people-at-home/