Interior Health has changed the way it delivers ready-made meals to clients at home.
Starting October 15, the health authority will replace its Meals On Wheels program with the new Dinners At Home program.
There are around 20 people enrolled in Meals On Wheels in Cranbrook and 20 in Kimberley. Meals On Wheels volunteers deliver hot cooked meals to people’s homes three days a week.
Through Dinners At Home, people will be able to order whatever quantity of frozen meal they require, enough for one each day, and reheat the meal themselves at home. But packages of meals must be picked up from the F.W. Green Home in Cranbrook or the Kimberley Special Care Home.
Volunteers in the Meals On Wheels program have expressed concerns that Dinners At Home won’t be appropriate for some clients, many of whom can’t drive to pick up meals, or can’t reheat meals because of medical conditions.
But according to Interior Health, these concerns don’t take into consideration other services the clients have available to them.
“We are working individually with each individual client or a family contact to ensure that the supports that they have are available for heating meals. If they need a home support worker to come in and reheat meals and ensure that they are eating regularly, then these meals are in their home already and with their likes and dislikes (catered to) as well,” said Laresa Altenhoff, Interior Health East’s area manager for food and nutrition services. Home support workers can visit every day if required to reheat the meal, she said.
According to Altenhoff, Dinners At Home will give clients more choice of meals, meals more often, they can choose what time they eat, and meals will be available to people living outside city limits.
“People think that Meals On Wheels is sustaining people, but three meals a week is really not enough,” she said.
Clients are already making arrangements for meals on the days that Meals On Wheels is not delivered, she went on.
“Right now, they get only three meals a week. So out of 21 meals (if you ate three meals a day), what are clients doing for the rest of the 17 meals? Someone is out shopping for them, getting their incidentals, toilet paper, all those type of things.
“Somewhere there is a support. So we will locate a support so that someone can come and pick up their meals. If there isn’t anyone, then the volunteer drivers who wanted to do that will come and pick up the meals.”