In our second series of blogs and as part National Meals on Wheels week, Sarah Wren, the Chief Executive of Hertfordshire Independent living services (Formerly Hertfordshire Community Meals,) outlines how its meals on wheels services in Hertfordshire offers and provides extra support to help people live independently at home.
In Hertfordshire, the provision of a 365-day meals on wheels service to every rural and urban area of the County is a much valued preventative service, thanks to the innovative and proactive approach of Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) which commissions the service.
The meals on wheels provision, provided by Hertfordshire Independent Living Service (HILS), serves half a million meals and caring welfare visits each year to around 4000 elderly, frail, disabled, and vulnerable adults, and has been shown to make a real difference to the health and wellbeing of the people who receive it. In the last annual survey, 88% of clients reported feeling healthier, 94% better nourished, 92% more independent, and 67% visited their GP less as a result of receiving HILS’ services.
Here’s a story from Les, who relies on the Meals on wheels service:
There are thousands of personal stories behind every statistic, and one of HILS’ special clients recently spoke of the value of the service to him...
“My name is Les...This meals on wheels, as far as I’m concerned, I could not live without it. The people...that come are very homely and helpful...as far as I’m concerned everything is first class. I look forward to my dinner...every day because I have no washing up to do, only the knife, fork, and spoon. And also the service is so regular and magnificent, I don’t think I could live without it, I’m sure I couldn’t, but there it is, that’s me.”
Over the past year HILS has been expanding the range of services which it offers, providing extra support to help people live independently at home. As well as supporting lunch clubs and day services across the county with meals, HILS also provides: tea and breakfast meals; emergency welfare bags; home-from-hospital grocery bags; a county-wide Nutrition and Wellbeing screening programme; nutrition training and support materials for Hertfordshire-based organisations; installation and repair of personal alarms and telecare; free eye checks in the home in a joint project with a local optician; and a number of dementia fun clubs, some of which are delivered in partnership with Howard Cottage Housing Association.
Also planned for the next year is the provision of good-value transport to and from day services and hospital appointments (this is currently being piloted free to dementia fun club users), and more services to help prevent loneliness and provide extra support in the home.
Although Hertfordshire is an excellent place to live and receive services, unfortunately the story is not as positive elsewhere in the country, and over the past two years a third of local authorities have axed their meals on wheels services. HILS works hard to raise the profile of meal services across the UK, and meets many organisations that are recognising the value of investing in proven preventative services.
Every day about 60 meals on wheels rounds go out from our four sites (Hemel Hempstead, Letchworth, St. Albans, and Ware) visiting clients across the county.
For more information about the meals on wheels service see: