Home care agencies tackle many different aspects of aging in place, and arguably one of the most important areas is nutrition. That’s why one provider has launched a pilot program with a wellness company to provide healthy cooking sessions for seniors.
New York-based Alliance Homecare provides home care services, including home health, to seniors in New York City, Nassau, Suffolk, Rockland and Westchester Counties in the state. The provider prides itself on its “concierge” level of service for “sophisticated” clientele, and this cooking program fits that mold, with a focus on organic ingredients and one-on-one sessions with a chef.
The agency noticed that culinary services were often being overlooked, as caregivers are skilled at handling medical and non-medical daily life activities but may not have as much cooking expertise, Greg Solometo, co-founder and CEO of Alliance Homecare, told Home Health Care News.
Alliance partnered with New York City-based TOHI Wellness, a holistic health coaching provider led by private chef and founder Stephanie Levine, at the end of last year. The company has been piloting the program since.
“Having culinary expertise in the home is often overlooked,” Solometo said. “We’ve worked on a food program in the past but nothing has really taken off to date. But now we’ve developed our relationship with Stephanie and TOHI and we are heading in a really good direction.”
For clients who choose to participate, Levine will come into their homes with organic recipes and cooking lessons to inspire and teach them about a healthy lifestyle, Solometo explained.
If the senior is especially engaged, they can choose to go on a tour of their local health foods store and learn what items to purchase in the future to make the meals themselves.
For new clients, Levine meets with them to find out what’s happening in their lives and looks at the big picture of what’s ailing them. This could be anything from diabetes or Parkinson’s to high blood pressure, Levine explained to HHCN.
The program also allows Levine to work with seniors who may have come back from a nutritionist with a plan and work around that plan. When it’s time to actually cook the food, it is up to the senior if they want to participate or just sit back and watch.
Working with seniors is a new territory for Levine, though, whose career has focused on being a food and wellness advocate.
“It’s new territory for me in a way because I usually don’t work with seniors,” she explained. “But it’s a nice way to teach people how to cook for their health as well as support a healthy social environment.”
Currently, the program is still in pilot mode, but has gotten great feedback from seniors who utilize it. Because it’s a pilot program, it is free to Alliance clients right now.
Alliance plans to roll out the program in the near future, along with a new payment model that will have an option to include the cooking program in the cost.
“There’s no one size fits all in elder care,” Solometo said. “We’ve had the opportunity to show clients what ‘good’ looks like from our perspective, and then ultimately, it’s up to them to use it or not.”
Written by Alana Stramowski