Many supermarkets offer home delivery services so that you can still have food at home even if you are not able to get out yourself. They also provide a range of pre-prepared meals which you can heat up when you want them. The small hole in Barnet Councils argument is that many elderly people are not able to use the internet or have issues with communications, it is all very well saying food can be delivered, but for those who are not technology savvy, how are they supposed to place these orders? In my experience, my mother could not use a computer or order by phone. She had macular degeneration and would have struggled to read heating instructions.
There are also independent organisations such as Wiltshire Farms Foods and Oakhouse Foods, which can provide home-made, frozen meals and desserts to your door on a weekly basis. Many elderly people suffer from macular degeneration and other issues with sight/reading, making microwaving of food impracticle (assuming the person has a microwave). This also means that fresh cold meals with salads etc will not be provided. What happens if the company doesn't deliver or the person is out when meals are delivered (many elderly people have regular hospital visits etc)? Do these companies have training in helping elderly people. If the person doesn't answer is food left on the doorstep or with neighbours?
In Barnet we now also have the Casserole Club. This helps people in the community to share extra portions of home-cooked food with others in their area who might not always be able to cook for themselves.
The diners receive free meals and a little company whilst every cook receives the joy of helping someone in the community. Less food goes to waste as the spare food you make is given to someone who will eat it! This suggestion means that the elderly have to rely on charity of neighbours. For many this will be humiliating and degrading. They currently pay for the meals on wheels service. Many people do not want neighbours etc to know their circumstances. What checks are the council undertaking to ensure hygene standards are met, nutritional requirements (both dietary and religious) are met and what happens when the kind neighbour decides for whatever reason they cant cook a spare meal one day. The above description is also rather dishonest as it implies the food is spare, but it isn't. The kind neighbours will have to buy and prepare extra portions and they are then committed to delivering 365 days a year.
We are currently engaging with people on the future of the Home Meals Service in Barnet.This engagement seems to be a couple of pages on a website and an invitation for comments. Where is the proper attempt to get peoples views and engage with the real issues. Many important matters are not discussed.
Residents who are currently receiving a home meal service delivery by Sodexo will continue to receive a meal. Over the next few months, the social care team will work with individuals and undertake a review to identify alternative ways of supporting people to get a meal and give them more choice and control. The information we gather at these individual reviews will inform the decision making process. So it appears that the council have decided before actually interviewing the people concerned. This is not exactly honest or fair to the people concerned, is it.
For new referrals, we will look at alternative solutions before offering a delivery home meals service through Sodexo. What if alternative solutions are not appropriate?
We want to hear your views about our proposal or your suggestions about how else we support people to meet their nutritional needs. Do they really? Surely if they did, the news teams at the local press would have been informed?
Please tell us what you think by Friday 18 September 2015 by