People receiving community meals in Bath and North East Somerset are being advised and supported on changes to the service which will mean more choice for them in the future.
Currently 140 people, who get a hot meal each day provided by Bath & North East Somerset Council, are being contacted to reassure them about a change of provider in the future.
The move aims to give greater choice in the way they get their meals. In future the Council will not be the direct provider as others can provide better value for money, and because of increased local competition and fewer users of the service.
Age UK B&NES is working with older people who are currently using the Council-run community meals service to support them in exploring alternative methods of receiving a hot cooked daily meal. In addition, Age UK B&NES will be helping older people to find additional support in the community should they need or want it.
Janet Dabbs, CEO of Age UK B&NES, says: “We want to ensure that anyone currently receiving a hot meal each day continues to get the service they need, and also to make them aware of different activities and services that are available in B&NES.”
A list of alternative options for people has been provided - including options for meals at home and also meals in a more sociable environment, such as lunch clubs. Age UK is working closely with the Council on these changes and is in touch with people using the current community meals service to find out what would suit them best going forward. Where they have identified that someone would like to be able to meet people or have lunch with others, they will help customers to arrange this.
Specific arrangements have been put in place with adult social care services for those people with more complex and acute needs, who may require additional care and support as a consequence of their increasing levels of need.
Cllr Vic Pritchard, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Care, Health and Wellbeing, says: “Under these changes people will not be left without hot meal should they still want the service, it just means they will get their community meal from a different provider. It will mean greater choice for the people who rely on a meal being delivered each day.
“This is all about ensuring we provide the right level of care because we are committed to supporting the most vulnerable.”
Please check out our Q&A below, for more information:
What is happening with the community meals service?
The number of people currently receiving a meal ranging from 1-7 days per week is less than 140. This number is changeable and some people only have meals whilst they recover from illness and injury for example.
When the community meals service was set up over twenty years ago there were very few alternatives such as ready meals, microwave meals or frozen deliveries. The number of people using the meal service is declining year on year and we think this is because:
- There are changes in how people choose to be supported, and people having more choice and control in how their social care needs are met
- There is an increase in supermarkets and other food outlets offering prepared meals
- There is a growing number of independent meal providers who offer more flexible ways to get hot or chilled meals.
There are many meals services on offer to people in B&NES but the Council will no longer be the direct provider of a single meals service because it can no longer be competitive on price or offer people a wide choice of options. There are a variety of options available and the Council will continue to support people to make this choice and to arrange support to heat up meals if this is required.
How will people still be able to get a hot meal?
The Council will provide current customers with a range of options. There will not be a single supplier delivering these meals. These options are being discussed with customers at the moment and we have enclosed a copy of this list on the website. Some meals may need to be heated up and the Council will talk to all customers to understand whether they are able to do this or if they will need extra help to heat up a meal.
What are the other ways in which meals can be provided every day?
There are a number of ways in which people can access alternative meal options. Local independent frozen meal suppliers, day centres, lunch clubs and residential settings are all potential providers of meals to try, and introduce a wider range of food options.
Information is available on a range of alternative options from larger businesses and some smaller community based suppliers. Current customers are encouraged to make their own provision from the suggested suppliers as well as suggestions from Age UK. When visiting during the engagement process, Age UK will be able to assist people with choosing suitable alternatives.
How are you ensuring that vulnerable people continue to get support?
The Council is currently running an engagement process with current customers on the service change during November and December 2017. Everyone receiving a community meal has been notified of this and informed that Age UK B&NES will contact them to help them to take part in this engagement. This is so that we can understand their needs, why they are using the service and what support they are currently receiving. This information will be used to help us understand how best people can be supported to move to different arrangements for their meals. The Council will continue to offer assistance to people in arranging meal provision and a welfare check, but won’t in the future act as a provider of meals. The Council will carry out a needs assessment using The Care Act criteria for those customers who have been identified as needing help with preparing or eating a meal (this includes if they need help to heat up a meal). The Care Act sets out the responsibilities of councils to assess and meet the needs of vulnerable people in their area and it gives councils a criteria to use to do this. A number of customers who receive community meals are already receiving a package of care and their needs will be reassessed by a social worker to make sure that their care package is adjusted where necessary.
How can I find out more?
Residents who have any further questions or concerns about the change can call Bath & North East Somerset Council on 01225 477578.