Allies residents are happier and healthier than ever thanks to a recent partnership that prioritizes the individuality and dietary needs of the community.
Allies leadership initiated the partnership with My25 earlier this year. Where meal delivery kits deliver pre-portioned ingredients for a menu selected by the customer, My25 delivers menu plans based on the dietary needs and wants of the people living in a specific group home. The plans include the full menu, grocery list, and step-by-step instructions for producing the meals. In addition to all of the above, My25 chefs and dieticians are available for live trouble-shooting.
Through the first 6 months community members made strides toward achieving health goals while eating healthy and nutritious meals. In all group home settings, it is mandated that dietary menus be available for community members.
Before working with My25, the creation and maintenance of the menus fell to the staff members working in the homes. Now, Allies staff have the refreshed ability and availability to make a meal every resident of the home can look forward to.
“Having this service is helping Allies to be compliant with Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) regulations in meal planning with a 2-week diet-specific menu for all individuals,” Dawn King, BSN, vice president of Integrated Health Services at Allies, Inc., said. “It also ensures that individuals participate in meal plannings.”
“We have to take into consideration that our staff are not trained in meal preparation like a dietary department in a hospital or skilled nursing home might be, and now our individuals have the benefit of a chef and a dietician,” King said. “My25 is helping us be more compliant with physician’s diet orders and as a result we are seeing individuals are living healthier lifestyles.”
The introduction of My25 has also had a positive impact on the staff who work in the supported homes. Time that was previously used to meticulously plan and prep meals can now be used to spend more one-on-one time with residents.
“Staff have more creative meal ideas and are not cooking the same meals over and over,” Lorriana Dix, executive director of Salem and children’s programs in south New Jersey, said. “The shopping list that is created helps staff to spend less time in the store and they can stick to what is needed in the home.”
Although the prescribed menus are nice for residents and staff, they are not infallible. In cases where one part of a menu does not work for an individual, staff members can call the professionals and talk through the predicament. In one situation, a recipe called for beef, however, one person in the home was not able to reliably chew beef. After consulting with the chef, it was recommended that the recipe should be tried with chicken. That substitution seems simple, but when the staff is cooking for individuals with specialized diet, no substitution should be made glibly.
“They are real people we can speak to for advice,” Dix said. “If there is something listed our individuals do not like we can reach out to have it changed.”
The partnership with My25 is just one example of the ways Allies uses partnerships and opportunities to improve the lives of the people we care for.
“Partnerships, invite change,” Dix said. “Change is inevitable and can be a great thing.”
“In the beginning some of the homes were apprehensive that My25 would be a benefit for their homes,” Dix said. “Once they realized some of the ingredients were items they could use in other meals and the shopping list was keeping them from buying unnecessary items, they began to see the benefits.”
At the start of November, there were nine homes participating in the arrangement with My25. As of Dec. 1, 2023, 21 Allies group homes throughout New Jersey were taking part in the program, King said.