Test Kitchen has spent the best part of April in the field attempting to better understand pain points, needs, wants and aspirations for meal times and related processes and experiences for older people.
We had intended to leap ahead to testing our Host@Home models in April, however, we decided to take a step back to better understand the issues and problems associated with meal times, eating alone and socialisation rather than jumping ahead to testing possible solutions.
We spent time with 20 Meals on Wheels SA recipients in their homes as well as a small number of non-recipients. We also spent time with members of community groups and clubs during their meetings and group activities discussing issues around food, meal times and socialisation.
From initial impressions, we found that there were likely 3 broad categories to which peoples’ needs, wants and aspirations around meal times and socialisation could be classified:
(1) Expression of comfort with the status quo
· “when things are going along steady, you don’t go changing it”
(2) Craving greater autonomy, choice and appropriateness in the sourcing and preparation of meals
· “I’m stubborn and independent; I prefer to cook for myself……. I’m nearly ready to get back to doing that, and I shouldn’t need any help”
· “One of the big problems of cooking for one is buying food in small enough portions so as not to throw most of it away” (a commonly expressed problem)
(3) Craving greater choice, flexibility and appropriateness of social opportunities in community
· “I used to go on the day trips or camps [run by aged care service providers] but I don’t go anymore…. It’s the same stuff and the same people……… it gets boring
One of the interesting contradictions evident throughout our recent conversations is that many people describe smaller, homely environments as their ideal social environment including for the sharing of meals; however, many (often the same people) describe hosting others, or being a guest in someone else’s home for a meal, as uncomfortable or problematic, and thus would choose or preference public spaces over homes for socialising.
One lady (89y) described a recent experience with a group of ladies who regularly meet at a shopping centre café before doing their weekly shopping. One week, they instead decided to return to the home of one of the ladies for afternoon tea – “she insisted on hosting and putting on a full spread, when we said all we needed was a hot or cold drink and a chat, but she’s from the country you see and she said it wouldn’t be a proper afternoon tea…….. so you feel guilty being there, being hosted and waited upon when you know she’s not up to it”.
Some of the people we met this past month were attendees at our first social lunch hosted by Meals on Wheels in a community public venue. One lady (85y), said it took a lot of pushing from her family to get her there …”its not the sort of thing I would normally do…, but I thoroughly enjoyed it…it really gave me a boost and I would willingly do it again”.
In addition to this we have made some advancements in scoping and understanding possible value propositions to key supporting customers. This will factor into the business model development and service delivery models.
In this month of May, we will be taking our newest information and learning back to the design table (and the Ageing Challenge co-design workshop on May 12th) to translate into service prototypes.
On May 30th Test Kitchen (in conjunction with Meals on Wheels SA Port Augusta branch) will be at the Augusta Markets to share our ideas, concepts and prototypes for a better social dining future for older residents. We hope to stimulate lots of interest and discussion and to get our ‘co-design’ juices flowing!
So if this is your thing come along to the Augusta Markets on Saturday May 30th 9:00 am – 2:00 pm http://www.rdafn.com.au/augusta-markets
Test Kitchen aiming to help reclaim meal times as positive social and sensory experiences