Friday 18 September 2015

Meals on Wheels - the end of the road?

One of the most unpopular proposals in February's council budget was to scrap the Meals on Wheels service. The Executive Board, at the time, decided out of the kindness of their hearts, or perhaps the impending general election, to retain the service.

As is so often with these things, the reprieve turned out to be merely temporary and a lengthy report has been prepared which proposes to replace the hot meals with a far less appetising 'Community Nutritional Strategy for Carmarthenshire Integrated Services'.

The report states that 'The current service of meals on wheels should continue as long as it is practicable to do so and people wish to receive the service.'

However, do not be fooled, the two bullet points above this sentence tell councillors to 'note' the decline in numbers using the service (still a sizeable 328), and to adopt the new strategy to 'replace the limited impact' of the meals on wheels service. Not exactly encouraging.and of course the other key phrase is 'as long as is practicable to do so'...

The strategy has noble aspirations and the all round nutritional and social wellbeing of our elderly and vulnerable citizens should, in an ideal world, be addressed through education, advice and an endless supply of willing volunteers.

A quick look at the 'financial implications' of adopting the report show that there are 'None'. So, on a practical level, there is no extra funding for any strategies, integrated or otherwise

Meals on Wheels, the report states, 'does not provide the social support around eating or monitor consumption', perhaps not, but this is not a reason to axe one of the most 'frontline' services you can get, it is a lifeline and an important point of contact for many and demand is likely to increase. It is not free either, at £3.70 per meal. Unfortunately the option of socialising in luncheon clubs or day centres has dwindled due to council policy to offload them all and cut transport.

On the subject of lifelines, the Executive Board Member for Social Care, Cllr Jane Tremlett (Ind) who contributed to this new strategy, was the very same Executive Board Member who said, in February, when announcing the u-turn;

“This is a service which is highly thought of and provides a lifeline for many, we have to continue it. There has been no support from anyone to stop it.” 

Even Pam Palmer piped up in February saying that the money, around £100,000, saved by axing live CCTV cameras would be used where it was 'desperately needed' and specifically to "save the Meals on Wheels service"

With another cut masked as an 'improvement', it looks like both CCTV and Meals on Wheels will be lost after all...

The report can be found on the agenda for the Social Care Scrutiny Committee held on Wednesday, 16th September. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Meals on Wheels is an old fashioned service based on a welfare model. There is little need for a service such as this in the modern world and there are many superior alternatives. Meals are cooked and placed in heated containers and then delivered several hours later for some people. By now, often the food had "melted" into a pool of glob and/or its nutrional content is by now nil!
We shouldnt be offering such an outdated service to the largely elderly population who "allegedly" benefit from it. Time to modernise and stop being so paternalistic!