13 Jun 2019 Food Active and Local Solutions launch ‘Cooking and Company’ project with elderly male carers
To mark National Carers Week (10th – 16th June), we are pleased to share details of a nutrition and social inclusion project that we are delivering in partnership with Local Solutions. ‘Cooking and Company’ aims to improve the physical and mental health and wellbeing of older male carers in Liverpool – all thanks to BUPA funding.
The ‘Cooking and Company’ project involves a cohort of elderly male carers attending weekly cooking sessions to learn about the basics of healthy eating, food skills (meal planning, batch cooking and budgeting) and how to cook a range of healthy and nutritious breakfasts. The project is also an opportunity for carers to have break from the caring duty and engage with others experiencing similar challenges/ others being in familiar circumstances over a tasty and nutritious meal that they have prepared and cooked together.
More men than women ≥65 are unpaid carers, yet they are far less likely to seek support and the toll of caring impacts both physically and mentally. Stress, time constraints, lack of knowledge and/or motivation affects carers’ self-care. In terms of nutrition, carers report ‘less time to cook’ or ‘less interest in food’. Caring can be very lonely, with older men finding it difficult to talk; caring often results in the loss of support networks. That’s why Food Active and the Liverpool Carers Centre (Local Solutions) applied for funding from BUPA to develop a course that can improve both healthy eating but also tackle social inclusion among elderly male carers.
Following consultation with the target groups in September 2018, the carers we surveyed reported that caring had impacted their eating habits (100%), their cooking skills were poor (40%) or acceptable (60%) and their nutritional knowledge was poor/very poor (70%). The consultation also found that all the carers would be interested in attending workshops that involved practical cookery, learn about food skills, healthy meals and budgeting and the chance to socialise with peers.
Following this consultation, the Liverpool Carers Centre began recruitment for the cooking course. Food Active, with a team of two registered nutritionists (Association for Nutrition), developed tailored recipes, worksheets and handouts for a 6-week course for the carers.
The cooking sessions are well underway with our pilot cohort of elderly male carers – last week, as a team the cohort made a tomato and lentil soup from scratch to enjoy with their peers but also take some home for their partners to try. One of the carers, Phil, aged 74 commented during the cooking workshop: “I have never made a soup before or had one with lentils. This is so delicious.”
Following this 6-week course, three more courses will run over the next 12 months and a train-the-trainer package will be developed to help the sustainability of the course.
Magda Przybylka, Food in Care Project Manager, Food Active said:
“Many elderly male carers may not have had much or any experience in cooking before becoming a carer for their loved one – and now the responsibility is on them. This is a daunting task, let alone the toll of caring is already having on their physical and mental health”
Hazel Brown, Local Solutions, said:
“It is vital that we support elderly male cares in providing them with the knowledge and practical skills on a healthy diet but also provide them with an opportunity to socialise with other men their age who can relate to their current situation, and we hope that our ‘Cooking and Company’ project does just that”
This project is being delivered by Food Active and Local Solutions. To find out more about the project, please email firstname.lastname@example.org