Explorations in the Food Systems Inside Residential Settings for Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

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The Ohio State University

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The purpose of this study is to explore multiple aspects of food experiences of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) living two different residential settings, intermediate care facilities (ICF) or living in the community and receiving supported living services. For individuals with IDD living in these settings, the evolution of food environments is a complex process. It is shaped by personal preference and acuity level, staff knowledge and values of cooking and human nutrition, and federal and state policies. The research 1) evaluates staff members’ values and education; 2) documents the type and amount of food provided and consumed by residents; 3) observes staff interactions during meal time; and 4) develops a deeper understanding about political trends and regulations impacting housing, disability rights, and the diet of individuals seeking residential services. Data collection includes quantitative surveys, direct observations, and in-depth interviews of staff and residents at a local residential services provider, Franklin County Residential Services. Surveys were administered to managers and direct support professionals in supported living and an intermediate care facility. Surveys were developed with input from agency managers, the agency’s dietitian, and an extensive literature review. The research team developed interview guides for the policy experts and the staff dietitian. Field notes document observations of meals to gain a better understanding of an individual’s role in dietary choice. As disability housing policy begins to emphasize living in the community and utilizing supported living services, it is important for providers to know the barriers their clients may face to healthy diets and how staff can help their clients overcome these barriers.



Nutrition, Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, Policy, Ohio