Latest Research

Meals on Wheels of Wake County Selected for a Two-Year Study to Identify
Extended Benefits of MOW Service to Vulnerable Seniors

Fall 2016 - The Gary and Mary West Health Institute, Meals on Wheels America and a research group in the Brown University Center for Gerontology and Healthcare Research are collaborating on a two-year research program to investigate opportunities to improve the general health and well-being of homebound seniors by integrating health and safety screenings into daily meal delivery services. Six programs across the country were selected for the study: Meals on Wheels of Wake County, NC; Guernsey County Senior Citizens Center, OH; Meals on Wheels of Tarrant County, TX; Meals on Wheels of Greater San Diego, CA; Fresh Meals of Sheboygan County, WI; Pascack Valley Meals on Wheels, NJ.

Executive Director Alan Winstead commented, “We are excited to participate in this national study.  It is a real testimonial to the difference our volunteers make on a daily basis.  The complete study will prepare our Meals on Wheels program to make the case about how we impact the health and well-being of our participants’ lives.  We look forward to receiving the findings and making certain that we remain a leader in serving our senior neighbors.”

Meals on Wheels volunteers visit with senior clients daily and are often the only person a senior will see in a day. With 9.6 million seniors facing the threat of hunger, and 15.2 million living alone in isolation, the Meals on Wheels staff and volunteers build important relationships with meal recipients and are usually the first person to observe health status changes that could lead to more serious issues, and to routinely report any issues to caregivers or healthcare providers.

The aim of this two-year program, called More Than a Meal Phase 3, is to standardize reporting mechanisms and improve communication with healthcare providers to prevent an adverse health event. The assessment will help identify health, safety and social needs such as loneliness, depression or fall risk. By providing volunteers with simple screening tools and user-friendly technology, the study is designed to improve care coordination across the medical and home community, informing providers and caregivers of changing conditions before a potentially catastrophic health event occurs.

“Our More Than a Meal research series with Brown University continues to reinforce the holistic value of Meals on Wheels,” said Ellie Hollander, President and CEO of Meals on Wheels America. “It is our hope that Phase 3 will enable us to rigorously understand and continue to validate the extended benefits of crossing the threshold into a client’s home on their overall health and quality of life.”

“Meal delivery is an essential support for homebound seniors, providing a vital lifeline to the outside world for these individuals and we believe the Meals on Wheels staff and volunteers can also be a critical link into the healthcare system, bringing to light possible health, wellness and safety needs,” said Shelley Lyford, president and CEO of the West Health Institute and Gary and Mary West Foundation.