Targeting Health Improvement via a Nutritional Intervention Program for Adults With Developmental Disabilities and Challenging Behaviors



Research suggests that individuals with developmental disabilities and challenging behaviors resulting from complex impairments tend to experience poor health status linked to lifestyle factors (including inadequate diet and poor nutrition). Individuals living in group home settings seem to be especially vulnerable, as they may often be provided with meals that may not be nutritionally adequate. This article describes how the need for a nutritional intervention program for group home staff was determined, the nature of the program itself, and the impact of the program upon meal composition and on staff and residents. Subjects were supervisors and group home staff members responsible for providing meals in four group homes to 21 residents. The program consisted of two training sessions for staff and follow-up monitoring through daily photographing of meals, weekly communications with staff, and monthly measuring of the body mass of group home residents. The program was assessed through a time series evaluation of photograph ratings measuring meal composition. Results indicated that meal nutrition and composition improved significantly over the duration of the nutrition intervention program. The authors conclude that a meal enhancement model may be effective in improving meal nutritional compositions in group home and other community-based settings, thus providing opportunities for improved health status.