In Geneva, Switzerland, an initiative entitled 'Autour d'une table' ('Around a table') enables older people to sit and eat together every week in a restaurant close to their home, as an alternative to the lunch delivered at home. This initiative aims to combat social isolation and promote solidarity, health and social inclusion.
This project, set up in 2004, by the 'Institution Genevoise de Maintien à Domicile' (IMAD) and by some community action bodies, followed a study requested by the Health and Social Action Department of the Canton of Geneva in 2003, which demonstrated that meal delivery at older people's home contributes to their isolation and may not always improve their nutrition since they tend to eat less when eating alone. In addition, an isolated person does not feel encouraged to take care of him/herself.
What does it consist of?
Once a week, a group of seniors go and eat in one of the participating restaurants in their neighbourhood, accompanied by a volunteer. The volunteer will provide assistance to persons with reduced mobility. The 17 restaurants taking part in that social action leave a table free on a weekly basis for a small group and offer a healthy and balanced meal for a similar price to the one delivered at their home.