About Eat Well Age Well
Eat Well Age Well is a national project tackling malnutrition in older people living at home in Scotland. It seeks to raise awareness and address malnutrition which affects one in ten older people, equivalent to 103,000 elderly people in Scotland. Eat Well Age Well is part of the award-winning Scottish Charity: Food Train which for the last 25 years has supported older people in Scotland with vital services, and for the last seven years has been at the forefront of events around malnutrition.
The Eat Well Age Well project was initiated and planned by the Food Train in 2016. It has been developed and informed by research, and Food Train’s experience and learning from working with older people for over 25 years, as well as the evidence and the experience gained by the UK Malnutrition Task Force. Funding was secured from the Big Lottery in 2017 and the 3-year project is run by six core staff.
The Eat Well Age Well project aims to support older people to eat well, age well and live well with a focus on prevention as most malnutrition occurs in the community. To do this, they collect data to raise awareness and provide education about the interaction between risk factors for malnutrition when may span across physical, psychological and social risks with many resolvable causes. Eat Well Age Well then works in collaboration with the voluntary sector, local and national government, health professionals and communities, to develop initiatives that make a difference to older people. National organisations which Eat Well Age Well work with includes Age Scotland, British Red Cross, Independent Age, local charities across Scotland NHS Lothian dietetics, University of Glasgow and the Scottish Food Coalition.
Why Eat Well Age Well was nominated
Eat Well Age Well works well with others to support those who care for older people by capacity building to raise the awareness of malnutrition. They do by providing free training ‘Raising the Issue of Malnutrition’ for anyone working, volunteering or caring for older people. In addition, they offer malnutrition toolkits, information leaflets, and delivery dozens of events. They also provide grants in the form of ‘Small Ideas, Big Impact Funds which before Covid-19 issued 47 grants to community groups, social enterprises, charities and public-sector workers to set up or enhance projects supporting older people to eat well. They also work hard on putting policy into practice by focusing on national actions from the ‘A Fairer Scotland for Older People – A framework for Action’ and are a member of the Scottish Food Coalition supporting the right to food and the Good Food Nation Bill.
2020 has been an incredibly challenging year. As a result of Covid-19, the promotion of key messages on the risks of becoming under-weight against much more high-profile public health messages such as obesity became a challenge, as the advice on preventing and treating malnutrition is contradictory to most of the increasingly popular Covid-19 messaging. Eat Well Age Well focuses on the importance of fortifying foods with added calories and protein. To combat the confusion surrounding general population Covid-19 messages, Eat Well Age Well concentrated on creating a range of resources to spread better awareness of malnutrition in the elderly. This included toolkits, leaflets, videos and more substantial social media presence with a focus on infographics to educate and debunk myths about food and weight in later life.
Another set back as a result of Covid-19 was the funding of projects. At the start of 2020 Eat Well Age Well funded an additional 24 projects through their ‘Small Ideas, Big Impact’ fund which centres on supporting older adults to eat well, often in social environments. However, many of these projects were delayed or postponed so Eat Well Age Well opened a Small Ideas Big Impact Covid-19 Emergency Fund and funded an extra ten projects to support older people during the crisis which included support for food parcels, meals on wheels services and befriending calls.
Eat Well Age Well’s regular free training ‘Raising the Issue of Malnutrition’, and their REHIS Eating Well for Older People course was also interrupted over Covid-19 lockdowns. To overcome this, Eat Well Age Well upskilled and began to deliver their training virtually via Zoom and Teams, making it easier to deliver training more often, while at the same time making training more accessible to more people. A big win through increasingly more effective use of technology.
Caroline Walker herself worked within the community and was a strong advocate to prevent malnutrition in older people living in the community, hence Eat Well, Age Well was shortlisted for this year’s Charity Food Campaigner of the Year 2020.
What Eat Well Age Well has to say….
“We are delighted to have been shortlisted for our work in raising awareness and addressing the issue of malnutrition in older people living in Scotland. Malnutrition is often considered a hidden problem, and we thank the Caroline Walker Trust for giving greater recognition to this issue,” commented Danielle Gray, Digital Communications Officer, Eat Well Age Well.