Saturday, 28 March 2015

MEALS ON WHEELS – It’s Not Just About the Food

Dollie Delivers Dinner

I spent the morning zipping about in my car today delivering Meals on Wheels - and I had a ball!

Let's face it, some nights having to cook a meal is just a real fag, don’t you agree?  You get home from work at the end of the day and the last thing you feel like doing is standing at the kitchen bench, chopping and peeling, slicing and dicing.

(Even if it does mean you get to sip on a nice glass of vino as you go --- Hic!)

So imagine what it’s like being elderly, quite possibly frail or unwell… perhaps feeling isolated and living alone in your big empty house. Trying to muster up energy and motivation to prepare the all-inclusive ‘meat n three veg’ on a daily basis – it can feel like such a lot of unnecessary fuss.  Sometimes to the point of sheer exhaustion and maybe at the risk of compromising already pre-existing health issues?

Bahhh, all this effort, just for one person... IT'S JUST NOT WORTH IT, THEY CRY!

And your grown-up children, because they love you… are forever telling you that cheese on toast is "Not enough to live on every day, Mum" and that only proper nutritional meals will get them well again and keep them strong.

Then the real clincher… You DO want to stay living at home don’t you, Mum?”

Then along comes.... the Meals on Wheels delivery service to save the day!  Often going unnoticed and always under-appreciated, the Meals on Wheels service can play an integral role in ensuring elderly people get to remain living independently in their own homes - even if just for that little smidge longer than they otherwise might.

And that aspect alone can offer our beloved clients (and their family) some enormous dollops of welcome relief!

Meals on Wheels helping elderly stay at home
Keeping Granma at home longer

Reasons why MEALS ON WHEELS is such a good idea:

Firstly, not having to plan meals, shop at awful supermarkets or have the hassle of preparing and cooking food can be literally lifesaving to older adults who are generally able to cope quite well, but find the pressure of meal times has become somewhat stressful and unfortunately, less of a priority.

It means instead that my clients can devote their much-valued time to more important things like staying healthy, keeping strength up for pottering in gardens or going to the bowls club for lunch every Tuesday.  Also they get to throw themselves into more mentally-stimulating pursuits such as tackling crosswords, enjoying family time and knitting.

Yes, knitting.

It’s amazing how much pleasure a lot of my lovely ladies derive from the simple act of knitting. As the bubbly and always outspoken Mrs Nelly Needlestack often bellows at me while I'm trying to vacuum her loungeroom.

“Ive knitted for over 80 years Dollie, it keeps my hands and my mind moving.  And besides, it’s the only way I can sit still when I watch the telly!”

Secondly, the food provided by the Meals on Wheels service means that our beloved Seniors are receiving a regular and ongoing source of nutrition that is not only tasty and convenient, but it offers choices to cover the fussiest of elderly palates.

Such as the likes of Mr Rodney Scumbag who receives a meal delivery five times a week and quite frankly, is the grumpiest, most cantankerous old bugger I’ve ever met.  Even he has trouble finding fault with the “bloody grub they bring me” … although don’t mention SAUSAGES or you’ll never hear the end of it!

Tasty Meals for Old People
Mmmm, tasty!   
(note: this is NOT sausages)

Plus the clever thing about the Meals service is that it can match the changing dietary requirements of elderly clients as their situations or their health status's's's change.

Depending on the mob you work for, there are usually menu options that cater for:
  • Vegetarians
  • Diabetics
  • Lactose/Gluten Intolerance
  • Food Allergies 
  • Low Fat/Salt
  • Meals cut-up, minced, or vitamised as required

Naturally, they can’t please everyone all of the time and being that we are such a culturally diverse melting pot of all sorts here in Australia, it is inevitable that some clients will find the Meals on Wheels food a little bland and uninspiring.

(I know how you love a good spicy curry, Mrs Lulu Jasvindah!)

Thirdly, and the reason I enjoy doing it… the Meals on Wheels delivery service means there is someone regularly popping in and keeping an eye on receiving Seniors.  Which explains why many of the families of our clients, feel that this 'Welfare Check'  is more important than the meal itself.

Drivers bringing the meals are able to monitor and observe any changes/deterioration in a client’s condition; they can ask after their wellbeing, enjoy a social bit of chit chat and leave them feeling like they are part of a bustling community.  For some lonely older adults, there is great solace in knowing that someone is coming to see them - to talk about the weather, admire the Spring bulbs or simply just to share part of their day with.

And the bonus for me is that I’ve showered half of 'em! 

Because being that I’m also a Carer – it means I already know a lot of the Meals on Wheels receipient's along with their relevant background reading.  So while I’m delivering their dinner, I can ask how their bad hip is... or whether the roof was still leaking... or did your daughter end up getting that job, Mrs Smith?

Older adults love it when you show an interest in their lives - even if sometimes they don’t remember discussing it with you in the first place!

So basically this small, but positive window of time (merely dropping off a meal to a client at their home) can result in prevention of further problems down the track.  OH&S issues such as tripping hazards or home maintenance problems can be identified and dealt with.  Mental and physical health concerns can be reported for further investigation and follow-up, thereby lessening potential hospital admissions or worst case scenario, may even delay a client being placed into permanent residential care (or worse?)

In fact, yes.... the mighty Meals on Wheels service can save lives!

Because in the eventuality of a client not presenting at the front door on delivery day, drivers are bound by a Duty of Care to follow emergency procedure that ensures our clients are ALWAYS located and that they are safe and happy (and fully fed!) at all times.

After all, life’s too short to be wasted fiddling about in the kitchen. Or as the charming Mr Scumbag so eloquently puts it… 

”Just as long as it’s not f**king sausages!”