Meals on wheels changes hard to swallow

Frozen: Meals on Wheels users are unhappy at the prospect of having frozen meals

Frozen: Meals on Wheels users are unhappy at the prospect of having frozen meals

First published in News by

Fears are rising over the future of meals on wheels in the borough after it was announced that hot daily deliveries would no longer be served.

Instead, from May next year Richmond Council plans to provide only frozen meals to elderly residents along with their own microwave, should they need one.

MP for Richmond Park Susan Kramer has voiced concerns over the change and one resident, who did not wish to be named, has already said: "We are not going to go frozen."

His elderly mother currently receives hot meals daily, courtesy of contractor Apetito, and benefits from the delivery drivers' regular visits.

"At least with the meals now they come round everyday and any problems they call me or an ambulance," he said.

"All the council is trying to do is save money - they don't care about elderly people's welfare."

I cannot believe someone will come round and heat her meal every lunchtime. Its just not practical, I cannot understand it.

Frances Franken

Ms Kramer said: "Vulnerable people often rely on the regular visits from staff bringing their hot food, and this daily contact is important.

"It is also important that food is fresh and appetising."

Frances Franken, whose 94 year-old aunt relies on the daily service, described the plan as "barmy".

She said: "I cannot believe someone will come round and heat her meal every lunchtime.

"It's just not practical, I cannot understand it."

A council spokesman denied any suggestion it did not care.

He said: "We have limited resources and with these we have to continuously provide quality services that represent value for money for all our residents."

The change to the community meal service comes as a result of a review by a scrutiny task group.

The council is putting two contracts out to tender for the new service - one for home deliveries and one for intensive day centre meals, where the council hopes to serve fresh vegetables.

Apetito currently deliver frozen meals as an alternative to hot food once every two weeks if requested, but no decisions have been made about the delivery service due to begin in May.

Cabinet member for adult services health and housing Councillor Denise Carr said: "The new frozen meals will be of a higher quality, be better presented and offer greater choice as well as increased flexibility of mealtimes.

"Help can be provided for residents requiring additional assistance with heating or storing the new meals following an assessment to determine their needs."

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