Senior Services |
Meals on Wheels Healthcare and Food For Pets
Problem - Homebound seniors sharing their Meals On Wheels delivered food with their pet companion.
The MOW program brings a daily meal to the door of homebound seniors. In addition, seniors have a daily interaction with the delivering volunteer. Often it is their only human contact that day. Senior Services currently delivers MOW to more than 260 seniors Monday through Friday and frozen meals for the weekend.
Our mission is to help seniors stay in their homes as long as possible. Senior Services enable older adults to live active and independent lives. We believe that active and independent aging is based on the values of self-determination, service to others, and lifelong personal growth. The Saline County Department of Senior Services supports programs that promote healthy lifestyles among all Saline County residents age 50+, and coordinates the delivery of services that help Saline County residents live home despite functional limitation and chronic disabilities.
Staff believe that we further impact the lives of seniors by eliminating the barriers seniors have in providing for their pet companions. A volunteer expressed their concern to the staff of Saline County Department of Senior Services that a homebound senior’s pet was eating out of the meal tray delivered the day before. It was concerning to the volunteer that the senior did not have enough to eat if she was sharing her food.
The problem for homebound seniors is they have limited resources; they often cannot afford to feed their pet, or they are homebound with no family or friends to shop or help with food and healthcare for their pet companion. If providing a meal and healthcare to their pet companion ensures they do not have to give up their pet to ensure they are taken care of, then we will assist seniors by providing food and healthcare for them at no cost.
Meals On Wheels America research has shown that pets provide homebound seniors an emotion rescue by reducing isolation, stress, fear and anxiety. Taking care of their pets gives seniors a sense of purpose, value, and self-esteem. A pet gives unconditional love and support to seniors that may not have family or friends.
A survey was sent to each MOW recipient asking if they would participate in this new program and asked about their pet’s health care and food needs. It was found that often there is no health care or ability to obtain consistent food. Staff met with Friends of the Animal Shelter and brainstormed on how to move forward, but the cost of food presented a challenge to maintain this program.
A survey was sent to all MOW recipients asking if they would like to be a part of a new program, Meals On Wheels and Healthcare for Pets. A total of 20 surveys were received asking for assistance for 31 pets.
Staff contacted our local animal services, Salina Animal Shelter. They connected us with Friends of the Salina Animal Shelter. After several meetings it was determined, they would help support our new program by providing limited healthcare such as shots and nail trimmings.
Staff contacted a local veterinarian; Atherton Veterinarian Clinic and they were pleased to be a part of this new program. They agreed to provide all food at their cost and provide well-pet checks with clinical care.
Staff applied for foundation funding through the Greater Salina Community Foundation and was awarded $4,219.00.
Saline County Department of Senior Services asked other local partners to assist in a fundraising campaign for pet food, treats and funding. A total of $515.00 was raised along with 152 bags of pet food, 84 bags/boxes of treats and miscellaneous pet food bowls and toys.
Saline County Department of Senior Services is a member of MOWA. They requested that we provide an outline of all services within their database. MOWA called this agency wanting to learn more on why we started Meals On Wheels and Healthcare for Pets and how it was progressing.
MOWA later called back and asked this agency to accept $20,000.00 to grow the program and build community partners. They informed staff that there are only five MOW programs for pets under their membership. This agency did accept and is working toward those goals.
The program started August 2020 with the following goals:
Goal 1 - Provide monthly food and treats and health care as needed to approximately 100 homebound pets within 2021-2022 and beyond. Outcome: A total of 41 pets have been provided for.
Delivery and Services started April 2021:
Goal 2 – Create a database that list each pet and owner and all services provided by April 2021. Outcome: A database was created April 2021. A quarry can be pulled to list all services within a month, quarter or yearly. Reports show the number of pets that have received food or health care.
Goal 3 - Staff and volunteers continue to explain the program to homebound seniors to encourage them to enroll in the program. Outcome: This is an ongoing effort to ensure pet care is provided as needed. Volunteers continue to monitor for any new pets’ seniors adopt and encourage them to complete an application for services.
Goal 4 – Secure new funding. Outcome:
Goal 5 – Build Community Partners. Outcome: Partners- this is an ongoing process. Below is the following partners thus far:
Goal 6 – Marketing and Volunteer Education by April 2022. Outcome:
Senior Services will continue to work with Friends of the Salina Animal Shelter and Atherton Veterinarian Clinic to maintain the program. Friends of the Salina Animal Shelter will continue to apply for grant funds from other sources to provide care. Atherton Veterinarian Clinic has agreed to continue to provide pet food supplies at their cost. Senior Services will continue to seek out grant funding to offset the cost of food.
Homebound seniors will no longer have the worry of how they will provide food and veterinarian services for their pets. It is often a misconception that seniors get rid of their pets because they are a burden. Homebound seniors have limited resources in leaving their homes or friends or family that help them with their shopping. Seniors often feel that their pet is not receiving the medical care and food they need and will give them up to help them have a better life. This is not in the best interest of the senior who often has no other companion. Volunteers and staff will no longer have the concern that meals are being shared with their pets.
Local government management has been educated on our goals and support this agency. They have helped troubleshoot the workload and encourage the use of partners and volunteers. Saline County Department of Senior Services is a department of Saline County. The marketing campaign list Saline County as the governing body of this program.
MOW mission is to help seniors stay in their homes as long as possible, enabling older adults to live active and independent lives including their pet companions with food and treatments available.