Meals on Wheels

Overview of the research being conducted with the partner

This 5-year partnership has resulted in the research team being awarded a 2016 tender to develop National Meal Guidelines for the Commonwealth Home Support Programme. The Guidelines are the first nationally consistent approach to nutrition, menu planning and meal presentation for home delivered meals and centre based meals for older Australians. They were launched at Parliament House by the Hon. Minister for Aged Care and Indigenous Health, Ken Wyatt on February 15th 2017 and can be found at the following link:

The partnership began with local MOW organisations and was supported through three UOW Community Engagement grants. Together with MOW managers, the team conducted both qualitative and quantitative research to better understand the needs, experiences and dietary intakes of their customers. This has led to new initiatives being piloted such as in-home screening for malnutrition status, provision of snack packs and breakfast packs, meal fortification and mini-meal alternatives. The team have also been invited key speakers at national and regional MOW conferences and have regularly presented at the national Dietitians Association of Australia annual conference. Key outcomes were also presented at the International Congress of Nutrition and Dietetics in Sydney in 2012.

Other organisations that work with MOW have been included in Nutrition and Dietetics Honours and Masters student projects, including Flagstaff Fine Foods and IRT. These opportunities enable students to understand the value of community-based services for older adults and the importance of research and innovation.

This work continued with a 2014 Home and Community Care (HACC) grant being awarded to Kiama MOW. Our team provided training on the validated Mini Nutritional Assessment – Short Form tool (a validated six item tool for community living older adults) and a model of care, as well as assistance with evaluation, including the analysis of the outcomes over the last 3 years. Outcomes were presented at the International Congress of Nutrition and Dietetics in Spain in 2016.

This partnership was awarded the UOW Vice Chancellor’s Team Award for Excellence in Community Engagement in 2014.

Names of research partner and how the partnership began

  • Australian Meals on Wheels Association (AMOWA);
  • Northern Illawarra Meals on Wheels (MoW);
  • Kiama Meals MOW;
  • Wollongong MOW;
  • Camden MOW.

Names of UOW researchers involved in the partnership

  • Associate Professor Karen Walton,
  • Associate Professor Karen Charlton,
  • Dr Anne McMahon

Other contributors:

  • Dr Siobhan McHugh,
  • Associate Professor Victoria Traynor,
  • Professor Peter Williams
  • Professor Linda Tapsell

Future potential of the research partnership

The partnership is ongoing, with current work to further develop and evaluate novel interventions to enhance dietary intakes, and evaluation of the National Meals Guidelines.