Concerns over changes to Meals on Wheels
14th June 2014
There are concerns over changes to the Meals on Wheels service in Essex as Essex County Council is reviewing the service, with one of the options to save money being to boost the cost to £4.79. This has raised huge concerns with users and their families, where such a rise could see users spending an extra £218 a year, a price many could not afford.
The service works by providing elderly residents in Essex with a nutritious, hot meal, working towards helping residents maintain a level of independence in their own home. In a move to cut costs, the council is thinking of removing the 89p subsidy it pays on each meal, which would see the price rise to the £4.79 cost. This would see the service continue to run, but put increased financial pressures on elderly Essex residents who rely on the service to maintain independence and stay in their own home with the help of mobility aids and electric stairlifts.
A vital service
It is not an option to cut the service as Meals on Wheels is used by 1,003 people across the county, but the new subsidy proposal has raised concerns amongst the public with fears that the rising costs may force users to decide between a hot meal and heating their home during the winter.
It is evidently a difficult decision for the council, whose sparse funds are forcing them to make a choice on the costs of the much appreciated service. Not only does the service provide nutritious hot meals, but it also provides the often underestimated factor of human contact, whereby service users receive a visit and a well-being check from the delivery drivers.
There are concerns that without this service, users who remain independent and living in their own homes thanks to mobility aids like motorised riser recliner chairs and such community services would not only be at risk of poor health and living conditions, but, in turn, become more reliant on the NHS.
Image Credit: Bob Jagendorf (flickr.com)
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