Liard First Nation, Watson Lake Community Hospital celebrate success of pilot project serving over 600 nutritious meals monthly to over 40 Watson Lake-area Kaska elders.
What started as a joint solution between Liard First Nation (LFN) and Watson Lake Community Hospital (WLCH) to meet a unique community need has grown into a partnership that puts the concept of collaborative care into action.
Late last year, it came to the attention of the community some elders were having difficulty accessing hot, nutritious meals, especially on weekends. Carol Chiasson, Director, Patient Care and Experience at WLCH and Sonia Pourabdi-Laukkanen, Health Manager at LFN, acted quickly to create a frozen meal program, which now delivers over 600 nutritious meals monthly directly from the WLCH kitchen to over 40 LFN elders.
“Nutrition is an important part of health and healing,” says Soulia Pourabdi-Laukkanen, Health Manager, Liard First Nation. “These are delicious, healthy meals tailored to the needs of each elder that help improve health outcomes, increase elders’ independence and help them rely less on hospital care.”
Quick action led to the program’s success. All meals are prepared and cooked by hospital staff. Because fresh meals can spoil quickly and food can lose flavour and nutritional value when immediately frozen, Liard First Nation purchased and installed a blast chiller in the hospital’s kitchen. This means meals can be quickly, safely chilled before being frozen and still taste great.
“After a trial run in December and a survey of elders’ food preferences, we settled on a menu,” says Pourabdi-Laukkanen. “Elders choose their meals Monday, have them delivered Friday, and since they’re chilled then frozen, we’re able to deliver hundreds of nutritional meals that can be enjoyed any time.”
The program has now delivered thousands of meals to elders, many of whom might face mobility challenges or prefer or require minced or puréed foods.
“Community feedback has been incredibly positive,” says Jason Bilsky, CEO, Yukon Hospitals. “The success of the frozen meal program shows Yukon’s community hospitals are much more than acute care centres—they’re key partners in Yukon’s health system that respond to unique community needs and help provide excellent care.”
Join us in recognizing the efforts of Stefanie Ralph, Executive Director Patient Experience, Carol Chiasson, Director Patient Care and Experience at WLCH and all the nutrition and food services staff for helping develop such an important program!