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Better eating for people with learning disabilities

Well - being and Nutrition Project at Outward

At the beginning of 2021 I have been appointed as a well-being and nutrition advisor at Outward. A wonderful London charity that supports vulnerable groups: people with learning disabilities, autism, elderly and young people at risk. My role initially was to consult on company’s Nutrition Policy in order to support our service users. Research and consultation process has led to other projects and I started to offer training and workshops to support staff who work directly with people we are supporting.

Nutrition and Well-being Project was born. With the help of wonderful staff teams at Outward I am able to educate and coach the Outward community about nutrition, health and well-being.

Why nutrition is important?

People with learning disabilities are at nutritional risk due to multiple factors: poor dental health, medications, digestive discomfort, physical difficulties such as poor posture and coordination, disrupted circadian rhythm, poor vision and lack of education. These factors can contribute to poor nutrient intake and ultimately chronic illness and more serious health complications long term, sometimes leading to shorter life expectancy. My aim is to educate staff and empower people we support to make healthier choices, lead more enriched, fulfilling and longer lives.

What is the project and how it works?

The Well-being and Nutrition project involves staff training days in understanding Principles of Nutrition and Nutrition for People with Learning Disabilities. These sessions are interactive, packed with facts and handouts allowing time for discussion and questions. Staff are encouraged to discuss cases and come up with actionable ideas to support people in their care.

Additionally, we aim to introduce whole grains, adequate hydration and 5 a day in each service as a standard reducing ready-made meals wherever possible.

Creative cooking workshops involving staff and people we support are also often provided in order to promote community spirit and family atmosphere: the joy of sharing food.

Furthermore, one to one coaching sessions are also offered where appropriate as well as individual meal plans and pictorial shopping lists.

The project is forever evolving and developing as new ideas spring to mind.

So watch this space.

Following progress and success of this project I was honoured to be shortlisted for the British Nutrition Community award 2022 and received a new nomination for 2023.

Director of Care and Support Katie Gutheim:

'Laura joined our charity on a freelance basis providing training, guidance and practical

support to our staff teams, inspiring better diets for the people we support. The people we

support are highly vulnerable and at risk of suffering poor health due to a lack of accessible

information and access to services. We believe in empowering people through knowledge,

providing the tools to make choices for themselves. When it comes to shopping and meal

planning, Laura has worked with individuals at their pace, recommending healthy

alternatives, trying new recipes, revamping meal plans and inspiring people to share their

new found passion for food with others, exploring balanced meals and “rainbow plates”.

Laura continues to make a real difference to our services and the wellbeing of people we

support and our teams. Thank you Laura.'


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