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Spotlight on Innovation: Stepping Up Your Nutrition - A Malnutrition Risk Workshop

We're highlighting the cutting-edge programs and successful strategies used by the 2018 recipients of n4a's Aging Innovation Awards in a weekly spotlight feature. This week we shine a spotlight on Maintaining Active Citizens (MAC), Inc., winner in the Healthy Aging category.

During n4a's 2018 Annual Conference and Tradeshow, the top four highest-scoring Innovations winners won cash awards thanks to the generous support of AIA sponsor WellCare Health Plans. Naming MAC the second place winner, n4a presented the agency with a check for $1,500.

To help older adults remain independent while preventing malnutrition and reducing their risk of falls, MAC launched the Stepping Up Your Nutrition (SUYN) program in the spring of 2017 in collaboration with the Maryland Department of Aging (MDOA), Abbott Nutrition and the Maryland Living Well Center of Excellence. The interactive workshop combines role-playing and problem-solving activities and provides planning tools to address topics such as how nutrition and muscle strength impact falls risks, how the proper consumption of fluids and protein maintains strong muscles, and other tools to reduce falls risks.

The 2.5-hour workshop is delivered by peers trained in evidence-based programs and is designed as a “session zero” recuritment tool for the agency's falls prevention or disease self-management programs. Participants follow a patient named Mary as she undergoes a nutrition risk assessment and then identify what she is doing right and what makes her at risk for malnutrition, before completing their own nutrition assessment and tasting protein-rich foods and drinks. SUYN also includes a clinical component with hand grip strength exercises and tracks participants' improvements before and after taking the class.

In the fall of 2017, MDOA received a grant from the Administration for Community Living to support innovations in nutrition programs and services, which allowed them to start rolling out the classes across the state and hire an academic evaluator. During this same period, the program won an Innovators Achievement Award from the International Council on Active Aging.

To date, the program has been implemented in six counties in Maryland and reached 190 individuals, 70 percent of whom self-identified as malnourished. According to Leigh Ann Eagle, Executive Director of the Maryland Living Well Center of Excellence, the program has received interest from payers, hospitals and AAAs. The agency is currently developing an interactive online leader training based on leader training/program implementation interviews and participant survey outcomes.

To learn more about this year's winners, be sure to read our press release and check out our book of winners to learn how your agency can implement this or similar programs in your community!

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