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Healthy decisions now a pos-ability

Choosing healthy food over fast food has become a little easier for six Gold Coast residents living with a disability thanks to the PresCare Pos-Ability Program, which has given them the tools and experience to make better decisions towards their health and wellbeing.

All six participants were awarded for their efforts with a graduation ceremony held in their honour at Bond University.  

Aged-care provider PresCare teamed up with My Nutrition Clinic dietitians and researchers from Bond University to pilot a six-week program to help people living with a disability better understand how to make healthy food choices.

The PresCare Pos-Ability Program is a nutrition-based, healthy food choices program designed to empower clients to make informed and healthy decisions when shopping for food at their local supermarket.

PresCare Chief Executive Officer, Greg Skelton said helping people with disabilities make informed decisions about what they eat is not only good for their health but also builds confidence and a sense of wellbeing.

“This client group are at a higher risk of obesity and long-term chronic disease which in turn can lead to them becoming socially isolated in their local community.

 “We are very proud of our clients as they graduate from the program a little wiser and a little healthier thanks to the wonderful demonstrations and activities provided during the program,” he said.

“We’ve given our clients the tools to make healthy food choices which means we’re halfway to keeping our clients more socially connected, as a healthy body and a healthy mind go hand in hand.”

The PresCare Pos-Ability program has successfully guided PresCare clients to plan and find healthy food alternatives that are not laborious to prepare or cook.

The weekly sessions were an opportunity for clients to see and experience first-hand the small changes they could make to their diet or daily routines to stay fit and healthy.

From cooking demonstrations with PresCare’s head chef to simple exercise tips for around the house, to getting their hands dirty in potting their very own edible kitchen garden and preparing shopping lists, the holistic teaching approach has encompassed all elements of healthy living.

Preliminary feedback about the program has been overwhelmingly positive, with a number of clients enjoying the weekly sessions of connecting with others while learning new skills to keep their health front of mind.

Even if changes to diets have been small, the benefits will be long lasting and already these clients are endeavouring to make healthy choices rather than rely on the convenience of fast foods.A major component of the program was to guide and support each client to become confident in planning, selecting and purchasing nutritious foods at their local grocery store or supermarket.

Participants have embraced the writing of shopping lists and trips to the supermarket where they have felt empowered in the knowledge that they can confidently make a healthy meal from scratch. 

The ethos about this program is about community connectedness and a number of people played a part in supporting our clients.

“From dietitians to clients’ parents or carers and their care workers, to staff at the local supermarket – everyone was encouraged to play a part in helping our clients make healthy food decisions,” Mr Skelton said.

Dianne Reidlinger, Public Health Nutrition lead for the Master of Nutrition and Dietetic Practice program at Bond University, said the Pos-Ability program had been a wonderful opportunity to meet, engage and learn from the Pos-Ability participants.

"The nutrition team at Bond University are committed to engaging with the local community to improve the health and social outcomes for people with a disability," she said.

"The Pos-Ability program has been a great success not only for participants but for Bond nutrition students, who have benefited through the forming of an ongoing relationship, working together towards breaking down barriers associated with disability.

"We look forward to continuing our work in this field, alongside PresCare and My Nutrition Clinic, to help people with a disability make healthy food choices.”

This involvement of carers, parents and care workers is seen as imperative in understanding and encouraging the newly learned skills post program completion.

The PresCare Pos-Ability graduation was held at Bond University on Tuesday 30 June, with results of the pilot program to be published towards the end of 2015.

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