I thought she was being ridiculous. I explained to her that when the council changed suppliers, they were careful to make sure that the people who received the service would not see any diffierence. I knew things may be a "bit different", but I had read the pamphlet which explained that the new supplier offered a better range of food, catering for ethnic diversity and choice. She said she "didn't want curry, she wanted her usual lunch". She had made such a fuss that my sister had rearranged her annual holiday to make sure she was staying with my mum to calm her.
My mum would have been 88 today. Had she still been alive, I'd have been sharing a Guiness with her instead of writing this blog. She died 17 months after I wrote the email below. I believe that what happened undermined her confidence and contributed in a major way to her demise.
Had I not had to write the email below, this blog would not exist. Maybe I would have not been in the slightest bit interested in One Barnet. Maybe I would still believe that changing to an outsourced supplier didn't matter.
I wonder how many people will have to write emails like this as the full horror of One Barnet is rolled out. I think I've wised up a little bit since then.
From: Roger Tichborne
To: firstname.lastname@example.org ; email@example.com ; firstname.lastname@example.org ; email@example.com ; firstname.lastname@example.org
Sent: Monday, April 30, 2007 7:33 PM
Subject: Matter of extreme urgency
As you may be aware the meals on wheels service provided by Barnet Council today changed operators. My mother, who is 81 years old and disabled following a stroke, generally relies on this service for a hot meal at lunchtimes. Under the previous provider, the meals would come without fail before 12 Noon. My mother was rather upset when the previous lady who delivered her dinner informed her that her company had lost the contract and a new supplier would be taking over. If you are familiar with the elderly, roiutine becomes a matter of paramount importance. Having already become unsettled by this change, my mother became extremely distressed when the meal did not arrive.
Eventually the meal was delivered at 5.10pm, over 5 hours later than usual. My sister who is visiting from America, was with my mother and was informed by the driver that the meal had been on the van since 13.00. It was completely dried up and inedible(to say nothing of the health risk of having a meal on a van that long). The delivery company informed my sister that there were at least 10 outstanding deliveries.
On inspection my sister drew the conclusion that the quality of the meal was also far inferior to the previous suppliers offering. My sister is a retired SRN and worked for the last 7 years in the USA in hospices, so she is familiar with dealing with elderly people. She was totally disgusted, not least to find that the helpline was permanently engaged.
I assume that the contract was changed on grounds of cost. When dealing with vital services such as this, PROPER PLANNING is paramount. Drivers should have been performing dry runs to familiarise themselves and should have acquainted themselves with the operating pattern of the previous supplier. All of this is what councils are meant to do. Fortunately for my mother, I anticipated this scenario and had arranged for my sister to delay her return to the USA just in case.
My mother has not had menu choices from the new company and is in a complete panic about the situation. I am sure she is not alone. I trust that between all of you, you will be able to resolve this matter ASAP and ensure that a quality service is resumed tomorrow. I trust you will get back to me ASAP to assure me that as councillors, this matter will be given the utmost priority by Barnet Council. I'm sure that the vast majority of lonely, vulnerable people in Barnet do not have someone to make there case, so I feel morally obliged to ensure this is sorted out.
I am sure that all of you became councillors to look after the weakest and most vulnerable people in Barnet and will be as horrified as I am to hear of this.
My mother lives at ** Millway, and has lived in what is now Barnet since 1941. She was a great friend of Margeret Thatcher in the 1960's as my mother was chair of the Hendon Overseas Friendship Association, of which Lady Thatcher, as MP for Finchley was the honoury President. She is absolutely livid and had a stroke in 2000 not impared her speech and mobility, She would have been on the steps of the Town Hall tomorrow demanding action.
I look forward to an early reply.