Southwest Healthcare partnering with Elder Care to bring more homebound residents hot meals

Thanks to a recent partnership with Southwest Healthcare, more homebound residents will be receiving meals delivered right to their front door.

Ida Schade helps pack the meals that will be delivered to homebound residents of Bowman. Southwest Healthcare recently partnered with Elder Care to serve meals three days a week. Jabbrs of Bowman had already been servicing those residents two days a week.
(Pioneer Photo by Cole Benz)

By COLE BENZ | Pioneer Editor

Thanks to a recent partnership with Southwest Healthcare, more homebound residents will be receiving meals delivered right to their front door.

Currently, Jabbrs in Bowman has been able to prepare meals two days a week, while volunteers from Dakota Community Bank have been transporting those meals to the residents. But Executive Director of Elder Care in Dickinson wanted to do more.

“Jabbrs was feeding two days a week, I wanted provide meals up to five days to more people who are homebound,” Rodakowski said. “So we partnering with Southwest Healthcare is going to fill the rest of that week.”

Rodakowski praised Jabbrs for the service, and looked at it as supplementing the services they already provide.

The agreement was solidified earlier this, and Rodakowski had a member of her staff in Bowman Monday, April 17—the first day of the partnership—to assist with meal packing.

The kitchen staff at the nursing home, who help pack and deliver the meals, say they were consulted about the added work, and no one had an issue. They only extend one shift by 30 minutes. One employee had even worked the process before, so there was some background experience.

After the meals are packed and sealed in the tray, they are then stacked in a cooler for delivery to homebound residents in Bowman. (Pioneer Photo by Cole Benz)

Southwest Healthcare CEO Becky Hansen said Elder Care approached them and they have been in contact for more than a month. Southwest Healthcare previously had a building that they was used for preparing the meals, but it had to be repurposed because of the construction of the new hospital.

“We felt awful, that we had to move them out,” Hansen said. “So we were really glad to get involved with them again from our own kitchen.”

The program falls under the Older Americans Act of 1965. Included in the 1965 law were programs aimed to promote good nutrition for the elderly. And part of those programs include congregate and home delivered meals.

“When you look at our meal program, our goal here at Elder Care is to help the elderly remain independent, in their home, as long as possible,” she said. “Many of us say I can’t wait to get to the nursing home, most of want to stay home as long as we can.”

Rodakowski said a good meal can translate into better health, and more independence, because good nutrition can help with their medication intake.

“Eating a healthy meal helps them with their medication, with their wellbeing, and it gets hard when they’re all alone in their home,” she said.

Rodakowski also said that the actual act of cooking can be daunting and tiresome for the elderly. And that could in turn force them to avoid eating a full, healthy meal.

“They don’t have the energy for three meals to prepare, eat and clean up,” she said. “By the time you get done with one meal your starting another, then your starting another, that’s why we work to provide that nutritional meal.”

Aside from home delivered meals, residents 60 years or older, that are not homebound, can still take advantage of their pilot program, Cafe’ 60.

Cafe’ 60 is a restaurant voucher-based program where qualifying residents can go to designated restaurants and they can select from a few meals based on qualified nutritional value (that follows the Older Americans Act). Jabbrs is the Cafe’ 60 restaurant in Bowman. And Elder Care has five pilot Cafe’ 60 locations all around southwest North Dakota.

Elder Care gets part of the meals reimbursed through the Department of Health and Human Services-Aging Services.

Both meal programs face a little uncertainty as the legislation nears completion. With the budget situation not yet solidified, some funding could potentially be cut. Elder Care gets monty through the Department of Human Services, but they also get funding Senior Mill Levy from most counties. And discussions have surrounded possibly capping those levies.

“So when that mill levy gets capped, there’s less money that’s available to us,” she said. “Our funding could [be] cut from that.”

Rodakowski didn’t want to talk specifics in regards to the budget, because nothing has been decided.

But regardless of what the future holds, Rodakowski reiterated her desire to help the the elderly community get the necessary nutrition they need, whether they are homebound or not.

“If anybody in Bowman feels they are homebound and in need of a nutritional meal, call us here in Dickinson, and we’ll go over some questions with them and we’ll determine if they qualify or not for home-delivered meals,” she said. “And if they aren’t homebound they can eat at Jabbrs through that restaurant voucher program.”

Anyone interested in getting an assessment, simply call Elder Care in Dickinson to get the process going at 701-456-1818.

“We are very committed to the elderly,” she said. “We want them to remain in their home as long as possible, and we feel the nutritional program is critical to their health and wellbeing.”