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Making healthy food decisions a pos-ability

Aged-care provider PresCare is teaming 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,” he said.

“If we give our clients the tools to make healthy food choices 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 aims to teach people living with a disability how simple it can be to plan and find healthy food alternatives that are not laborious to prepare or cook.

The weekly sessions delivered by dietitians from Bond University will guide and support each individual to become confident in planning, selecting and purchasing nutritious foods at their local grocery store or supermarket.

It will also encompass a holistic teaching approach to understanding healthy food by providing training on food hygiene, meal planning, preparing shopping lists, budgeting and food preparation.

This program is about community connectedness and a number of people will play a part in supporting the client.

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

“A significant component of this program is about delivering a hands-on approach by way of excursions to the local supermarkets and building a personal connection with the supermarket staff which will be an important step to enable clients to feel part of their own local community.”

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

Bond University Professor Liz Isenring said programs such as Pos-Ability were vital in ensuring those with disabilities received the nutrition needed to optimise their health.

“This is a vulnerable sector of the population and more needs to be done to ensure they benefit from the right nutritional intake for long term quality of life,” she said.

“’Disability’ takes in a lot of different conditions, but most have nutrition related issues that need specific care and a diet tailored to suit. For example, people living with a physical disability may have difficulty eating, requiring certain textures, or may find it difficult to maintain a healthy weight if they are immobile.

“The team at Bond University has a commitment to improve the nutritional health of those with a disability and have a number of projects in the pipeline that will see more emphasis placed on this important issue.”

The pilot program will consist of seven current PresCare disability clients residing in the Gold Coast area with results of this program to be published towards the end of 2015.

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