Age Concern food services grow

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INVERCARGILL’S older residents are turning to Age Concern Southland (ACS) for meals as they opt out of the Meals on Wheels service.
ACS manager Janette Turner said since Auckland-based food provider Compass Group took over the Southern District Health Board (SDHB) Meals on Wheels contract in January, about 50 people who previously used that service had approached ACS for meals to take home.
ACS delivers frozen meals to those unable to prepare a meal themselves or pick them up, and provides a hot three course meal at its Forth St centre four days a week. The service is provided at cost.
Office manager Heather Adams said there had also been a marked increased in the number of people dining in, particularly on Fridays, when numbers had increased from about 30 to about 50.
Ms Turner said ACS had been able to accommodate the increased demand for its meals and had the capacity to cater for more clients.
SDHB chief operating officer Lexie O’Shea said as at January 21 there were 98 Meals on Wheels clients in Invercargill. At the end of last month the total had reduced to 52 clients.
There were many reasons clients left the service, including only needing Meals on Wheels for a set length of time such as after being discharged from hospital; a change in care arrangements such as moving into a rest home; family taking over caring for the recipient; the food not being to their taste; or clients deciding to go with another provider, she said.
Invercargill Meals on Wheels volunteer Noeline Collie said she was concerned about the quality of the Meals on Wheels meals being provided.
‘‘I am totally incensed by the treatment of these vulnerable old people… They deserve better really.’’
Compass national development and innovation manager Lauren Scott said new meals were being introduced in the coming weeks based on popular feedback. The least popular meal items had been removed.
Since Compass took over administration of the Meals on Wheels service in April, the number of meals being delivered was stable, with 1202 total meals delivered in June, compared with 1238 in April, she said.
‘‘We are committed to offering a quality service in Southland and encourage any customers with feedback to call our dedicated 0800 number (0800 720 000). Feedback direct to our team is crucial for us to know what we’re doing well, as well as how we can improve.’’

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