Staff at the UCEDD conducted needs assessment to determine if a future nutrition education intervention is necessary and worthwhile for group home staff. The research goal of this project is to determine the need for a nutrition and food safety training for the staff of individuals residing in three group homes of a non-profit group home agency located in Connecticut.
The needs assessment included direct observation of the food system environment. The variables that were assessed are the food content within the homes, the equipment present in the homes, and the way foods are stored within the home. Based on what was present in the home at the time of assessment, each home was given a score on a scale out of 10 for each of the three areas assessed, for a total of three separate scores. The knowledge of the staff was also assessed through a 10 question multiple choice quiz with nutrition and food safety related questions.
- Group Home A scored a 7/10 for their nutrition assessment, a 7/10 for their food safety assessment, and a 5/10 for their equipment assessment. This shows that Group Home A needs to improve on the equipment they have available in the home, as well as some small improvements in nutrition and food safety.
- Group Home B scored a 3/10 for their nutrition assessment, a 5/10 for their food safety assessment, and a 3/10 for their equipment assessment. Group Home B showed a need for improvements in each area that was assessed. Most of all, improvements in the amount of healthy versus unhealthy foods available in the home and the quality and availability of reliable equipment to safely prepare nutritious meals is vital.
- Group Home C scored a 5/10 for their nutrition assessment, an 8/10 for their food safety assessment, and a 7/10 for their equipment assessment. This shows that Group Home C needs to make improvements to the amount of nutritious food available in their home, while decreasing the amount of unhealthy food (such as the sugar-sweetened beverages).
The assessment shows that there is a need for training and improvements to nutrition in the group home environment for individuals with disabilities assessed in this study. The barriers identified include time, poor working equipment, lack of skills necessary, lack of knowledge about basic nutrition, lack of knowledge about food safety, and a lack of motivation to provide healthy foods or healthier versions of what they typically cook.