Meals on Wheels: Organizational Clinical Site
PART A: Clinical Site
Name, Location, Hours of Operation
Meals on Wheels is a non-profit organization that operates in San Diego County. The site, located on San Diego Avenue, is opened every day. The organization is part of the Meals on Wheels America organization that has offices distributed across the country.
Who it Serves
The agency works mostly with the elderly who are unable to prepare their meals and have no one living with them. The organization’s focus on the elderly is based on the trends of increasing population aging and the increasing geographical mobility of family members, which has resulted in nearly 1 in every five elderly individuals living alone. The elderly have limited mobility and a high probability of declining health; hence the organization works towards preventing hunger and isolation among the population. The total population of the elderly who are at risk of hunger is estimated to be around 9.5 million, out of whom 5.5 million are at severe risk of food insecurity. Meals on Wheels organization is the only federal entity tasked with partnering with other non-profit organizations to address the need for food among the target population.
The Stated Mission of the Agency
The organization envisions a country in which all citizens’ life a nourished life full of dignity and independence. This vision is potentially achieved by focusing on the mission to empower the programs of the local community in order to enhance seniors’ health and quality of life and thus eliminate the probability of hunger or isolation among them. To achieve this mission, the organization works towards delivering nutritious meals, and engaging in friendly visits and health checks with the seniors as the target population. Meals on Wheels empowers its local community members through provision of leadership, financial support, education, support for advocacy, and research. These activities are accomplished through collaboration between different stakeholders in the public and private sector, as well through community building initiative. In doing this, the organization aims at strengthening the communities by uplifting one senior citizen at a time.
Funding Source of the Agency
The agency is registered and licensed as a non-profit charity organization, and it obtains most of its funds from the federal government since providing food to the elderly is a mandate given to the organization by the federal government. However, the government’s funds are often inadequate for the needs of the organization; thus, the entity also accepts donations from well-wishers since the organization is registered as a non-profit entity and a charity organization, which warrants support through grants and donations. In 2019 for instance, the cash obtained from the federal government was $ 1,383,216, while grants and contributions amounted to $ 3,161,574. Other contributions were made in the form of pre-paid expenses.
Better Business Bureau (BBB) has accredited Meals on Wheels as an outstanding charity organization. BBB accreditation is based on requirements classified into four major categories comprising of 20 distinct standards of evaluation. The major categories include finances, governance, fundraising and info, and measuring effectiveness. The organization was evaluated across its more than 5000 community-based programs for assisting seniors in having access to good nutrition across the country. Charity Navigator has also rated the organization as a four-star charity entity based on the diversity of its services and fit with community needs. Charity Navigator evaluated the organization’s performance based on various factors, including the effectiveness of service delivery and financial management and reporting.
The organization is a charity. As such, it is accountable to several groups of stakeholders. The first entity to which Meals on Wheels is accountable is the federal government since it is one of the organization’s financiers. Other stakeholders that require accountability are the charity accrediting entities, donors, and the general population since more than half of its finances, are contributed by donations. Meals on Wheels shares its financial reports annually and makes them easily available to all stakeholders by posting them on its website to address the accountability requirements.
Who Staffs this Agency
Most of the staff members are volunteers. Meals on Wheels has an elaborate volunteer recruitment plan through which it has managed to recruit more than 2 million volunteers to deliver foods to the more than 2.4 million seniors served across the country. Moreover, the volunteers mostly work in the food delivery tasks and are not vetted for educational requirements. Other specialized positions, such as the presidency or community nurses, generally follow the conventional HR recruitment practices, and volunteers may also be considered in the process.
Educational Preparation of the Staff
The preparation of the staff depends on the nature of their tasks. The volunteer positions do not have educational requirements or preparations. Only the location of volunteering and the fit between the volunteers’ schedules and the delivery schedules are determined. However, other more specialized positions, such as the presidency, have specific educational and competency requirements that vary from one task to another and are sharpened through the induction process.
The role for the Community-Based Nurse at the Site (If Any)
Community-based nurses play a vital role in the organization. Meals on Wheels provides a wide range of healthcare services, including long-term preventive care services categorized as nutrition, safety checks, and connection to various social services. It also offers short-term post-discharge care services that are customizable depending on the providers’ needs. The San Diego site has one community-based nurse who works on calls. The volunteers delivering foods report cases of requiring healthcare assistance urgently. The nurse also frequently monitors several patients registered by the organization due to their chronic and age-related health conditions, and attends to their specific needs.
Receptiveness to Nursing Students
The organization’s roles imply that it has an opportunity for nursing students ready to support seniors in preventive healthcare service delivery and transition care. The costs incurred in transition care for a patient over one year are equivalent to hospital care for as few as ten days only, indicating a lower cost alternative to effective patient care that would require only nursing support. The organization therefore welcomes nursing students to provide support to the community-based nurses, mostly through volunteering and through specialized role hiring processes.
Activities the Clinical Group participated in and why they were Chosen.
In a visit to the facility, some of the activities in which the group could participate are food delivery, checking on some of the seniors registered as patients, and holding discussions with the organizers of the team at the office and with the community-based nurse at the San Diego office. Each of these activities is essential in developing a clear understanding of the organization’s role in community health.