Don’t subject elderly to frozen meals (Billy Fox)

I listened with interest to Radio Shetland on Thursday evening and the level of concern registering with our elderly citizens on the possible changes to the provision of meals on wheels.

Unfortunately the two councillors on Public Platform did not, in my opinion, provide entirely re-assuring answers, not always easy I grant in the limited time available. For clarification on what this proposal is and where it stands I would like to offer the following.

The proposal sits in the council’s budget document Service Re-design Options for 2012/13 and Beyond, reference number 64, and reads “Reduce/change MOW provision (frozen meals)”.

The implementation procedure is one of assess, therefore the final decision will lie with the incoming council. The estimated saving is £250,000 of the annual £1million for provision of the service.

On Radio Shetland it was stated that each meal costs £25 to provide so presumably to achieve this level of savings this cost must be reduced to £18.75. I cannot believe that this is not achievable by making local efficiencies and still maintain provision of a freshly cooked meal delivered hot to each client; as opposed to shipping in frozen meals from the south of England.

Failing that there are other areas of council expenditure more deserving of cuts than our pensioners!

As a shift worker at Sullom Voe I was subjected to the experience of frozen meals for a period of time. It is not something I would recommend for anyone and certainly not for the elderly and infirm, who depend more than anyone else on the nutritional value derived from a freshly cooked meal.

A key statement in the document lies in the services outcome column, where it reads “Changed service providing meals in different ways, not a reduction in service levels”.

A move to frozen meals is, in my view, a reduction in service levels; if I am fortunate enough to be elected on 3rd May it is not one I will be supporting.

Billy Fox

Candidate for forthcoming SIC elections.


Add Your Comment
  • Michael Grant

    • March 19th, 2012 11:54

    How on earth is it costing £25 per meal for m.o.w.Can somebody please give us a breakdown on where the costs is being spent.I went to a local hotel at the weekend and had a two course meal for less than £15 surely we would be better of just bussing them there and back again and supporting local bussines.

  • Douglas Young

    • March 19th, 2012 13:03

    Well said Billy, not only is a hot meal desirable, it could be the only social contact the person gets that day.
    Of particular annoyance is the pop-up ad for Wiltshire Frozen Foods in the middle of your letter. This is a disgrace and will stop people commenting online. Another letter recently had a flybe pop up, with the last line of the letter only showing below the ad.

  • John Fraser

    • March 20th, 2012 9:39

    Fresh meals are prepared in schools everyday. Can these not be delivered to those in the imediate area that require such a service.

  • Ron Stronach

    • March 20th, 2012 12:36

    I assume that the council currently cook these meals at some location in Shetland, I assume they still provide hot School meals, well why cant they combine the two areas, provide a hot school meal for school and then utilise the staff and facilities to prepare and cook meals for the elderly the elderly.
    This should reduce overheads and hense costs, I too wonder how on earth a “Meals on Wheels” can cost £25.00 each? I doubt if much more than 10% of that is in the actual cost price of the food?

    How on earth could they contemplate shipping in frozen meals from the Southeast of England??? Time for a change come May – surely?

  • W Conroy

    • March 21st, 2012 5:56

    £25 a meal for MOW!?!?! What are they serving… lobster bisque and fillet steak?

    According to the leaflet in the following Shetland social work PDF they charge the elderly £2.50 a meal and it’s delivered by volunteers. It also states that “In some areas the meals are cooked in the local school kitchen and therefore meals are not available during the school holidays”

    So does this mean each 2 course meal cost £27.50 to buy food, prepare the food and pay for the petrol? It seems to be more than excessive even with the ridiculous price of petrol here in Shetland!

    If this cost is correct then there is something seriously wrong somewhere along the line and someone is getting extremely overpaid!


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