Age Concern Isle of Man wants a commitment from the Department of Health and Social Care to speak individually to every older person in receipt of Meals on Wheels prior to Government ending the charity’s contract on 12th January.
The DHSC wrote to recipients of Meals on Wheels to outline the options after 12th January, which are a choice of two businesses who will deliver meals to homes – Wiltshire Farm Foods and Jack Frost.
Age Concern is concerned that the meals provided by Wiltshire Farm and Jack Frost are frozen, unlike the current Meals on Wheels service. The charity fears some older people may struggle to heat the frozen food properly and believes the loss of social contact for some recipients will have a detrimental effect on their wellbeing.
Helen Southworth, Chief Executive of Age Concern Isle of Man, said:
'Meals on Wheels is more than just a meal. Including wellbeing and safety checks, it is a lifeline to older people who live alone and may not see anyone else during the day. When Meals on Wheels service users on the Isle of Man were surveyed, 33% said they saw no-one other than the Meals on Wheels Driver on the days that meals were delivered.
‘We are very surprised that the DHSC Care has stated that the current Meals on Wheels contract does not provide for special diets. Meals on Wheels food is prepared by the Noble’s Hospital kitchen and provides for the full range of dietary needs, including pureed, soft, low-salt, low-sugar, gluten free and allergy. The food is prepared fresh locally, and offers choice from a menu.
‘All of the people who use the current Meals on Wheels service have been assessed by the DHSC as needing support with getting a regular meal. Eighty-four of the current service users are between 90 to 102 years of age.
‘Age Concern Isle of Man is very concerned that some of the current service users will find it difficult to cope when they stop having a daily visit and help to order their choice of food, and become ordinary customers who have to make their own arrangements.
‘The issue of cost is also a concern. In particular, people who need special pureed diets will see a significant increase in price.
‘We hope that at the very least the DHSC speaks to and visits every person who now gets Meals on Wheels, and makes sure they have all been able to order appropriate food, that they all have support to reheat the frozen food properly, and that they all have a freezer to store the food, so that no one experiences detriment when the Government stops the Meals on Wheels contract on 12th January.’