© Danielle Robertson Consulting Pty Ltd t/as DR Care Solutions
On Wednesday this week we celebrate National Meals on Wheels Day and recognise the work of the more than 45,000 volunteers who deliver around 10 million meals to 75,000 senior and vulnerable Australians each year.
The heart-warming and simple concept of home delivered meals to the vulnerable began in the Second World War in England. It was an initiative of the Women’s Voluntary Services which, at a time of food rationing, delivered meals to people frightened, injured or displaced by heavy bombing.
The concept came to Australia in 1952. With now 592 service locations across the country, most of us know someone who has volunteered for Meals on Wheels or receives the service.
From my experience, the service brings great comfort to the children or guardians of older Australians. They know that their loved one is receiving a nutritious meal daily and is being checked on. Meals on Wheels is not just about meal delivery. The volunteers take the time to chat and make sure all is well at home.
Am I eligible for the service?
Anyone over 65 years can receive the service. If the person is of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) descent, they are eligible if they are 50 years or over. Anyone under 65 years who lives with a disability is also eligible.
In short, the service is there for those unable to shop or cook for themselves. It is all about giving people the choice to remain living at home.
How much does it cost?
You can be a full paying client or, if eligible, receive Federal Government subsidised meals.
Clients receiving government subsidised meals pay in the range of $4.50 to $12, out of their pocket, for each meal. Subsidies are available through the Commonwealth Home Support Program, Commonwealth Home Care Packages and National Disability Insurance Scheme.
Around two-thirds of Meals on Wheels clients receive subsidised meals under the Commonwealth Home Support Program.
How can I register for a government subsidised meal?
If you are 65 years or older or 50 years or older and identify as ATSI, to establish your eligibility for subsidised meals under the Commonwealth Home Support Program, contact My Aged Care on 1800 200 422.
If you are under 65 years of age, contact the National Disability Insurance Scheme on 1800 800 110.
My Aged Care will organise an assessor from what is called the Regional Assessment Service to come to your home to undertake an assessment of your care needs. It is a free service. You simply need to have your Medicare Card on hand.
Assessments are still taking place despite COVID-19 public health order restrictions, with the assessors needing to follow strict government health orders when they visit or are undertaking the assessments over the phone in some areas.
If you are a pensioner, receiving Meals on Wheels will not impact your pension. The Government will pay the Meals on Wheels service directly. The money will not come out of your pension.
What is the service?
Meals are delivered Monday to Friday, with weekend meals delivered on the Friday before. You can choose your meals and each service has its own rules on when you need to have your order in by. Meals are delivered hot, chilled or frozen, depending on your wishes.
Ready for such a service?
When it comes to support in the home, my advice is to act early and take on services gradually.
While having a cleaner come to help is well accepted, for some, receiving meals from Meals on Wheels may leave you feeling like a centenarian. Let that thought go. If you haven’t got the energy levels to go shopping and cook for yourself, call My Aged Care, have an assessment and take a trial period of Meals on Wheels and see how you go.
You can find your local Meal on Wheels service through this link.
Demand for the service during the pandemic has increased, almost doubling in NSW alone. Hats off to Meals on Wheels as the service is keeping up with the increased demand.
If you need support and guidance on taking on some extra government-subsidised care in the home, please feel free to contact me, Danielle Robertson at DR Care Solutions. Let’s have an initial discussion on how to set up the right care, support and assistance at the right time and in the right place.