A community ready for the future? A social marketing study of Meals on Wheels Services in Ireland
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This research, undertaken in the Irish Meals on Wheels (MOW) community, seeks to address the challenges associated with MOW stakeholders' behaviours through the application of a community social marketing model: the Community Readiness Model (CRM). Building on an increasing recognition of the value of community-led approaches, this research examines behaviour change from the perspective of a community, rather than the traditional focus on the individual, encompassing the environment in which behaviours occur. The application of the CRM in this research facilitates a systematic process of assessing and understanding the behaviours of key stakeholders involved in MOW services in Ireland, shaped by consultation with older people at different stages of MOW service use (current, former and potential MOW users). Through adapting this multi-perspective approach, this research moves beyond individual behaviour change to examine multi-level change and social implications. Furthermore, this research contributes empirical support to the discussion of broadening the scope of social marketing theory to encompass social and environmental factors. Contributions to practice are shaped by insights into barriers and benefits, and levels of community readiness identified in this research. The application of the CRM as a means of assessing and monitoring gradual changes allows the development of greater control within the management structure of MOW. From a policy perspective, this research contributes to the body of knowledge that will guide efforts to continue to support older people to live in their own homes. The adaptation and testing of the CRM in the Irish context benefits not just the older population, but also acts as a guide for social change for other key areas of community life in Ireland requiring change such as health, social justice, transport, and energy sustainability.