Agenda Item No. 8
The Vale of Glamorgan Council
Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health): 2nd February, 2015
Report of the Director of Social Services
The Meals on Wheels Service
Purpose of the Report
1. To inform Scrutiny Committee about how the Meals on Wheels Service is delivered currently.
2. To advise Scrutiny Committee about the rationale for considering alternative ways of meeting the nutritional needs of those who are eligible for care and support from social services, in response to changing level of demand for the service.
1. That Scrutiny Committee notes the content of this report.
2. That Scrutiny Committee refers this report to Cabinet.
Reasons for the Recommendations
1. To ensure that Scrutiny Committee can exercise oversight of this service.
3. This report is provided in response to a Request for Consideration from Councillor Richard Bertin who requested Committee to have information regarding the numbers using the service and potential future funding reductions.
4. Meals on Wheels is a social care service that delivers a hot meal at home to people who are assessed as being unable to undertake this task for themselves. In Barry, one Meals on Wheels route is facilitated through a service level agreement with the Royal Voluntary Service. Volunteers deliver the meals from Rondel House.
5. There is no statutory requirement for the local authority to provide a Meals on Wheels service. However, it must assess the needs of individuals and ensure that, where there are eligible risks to independence, these risks are mitigated through the provision of services. Those who experience risks associated with potential malnutrition would be eligible for a service to ensure that their needs are met. This can be met in various ways and not just through the delivery of a hot meal by the local authority. For example, frozen meal delivery services have proved to be popular. The principal advantages are that individuals have greater choice over what and when they can eat, without any requirement for an assessment by social services. Some schemes in other local authority areas involve the provision of vouchers which can be used in local facilities such as cafes. Additionally, a number of luncheon clubs and day services exist across the Vale of Glamorgan, providing not only a meal but also an opportunity to engage with other people.
6. Use of the Meals on Wheels service has reduced substantially across the United Kingdom. Recent figures for England, reported in LocalGov.co.uk following a Freedom of Information Request, indicate that the number of elderly people receiving meals provided by local authorities has fallen in the last five years from 296,000 to around 109,000. The position across Wales varies. In 2013/14, six local authority areas did not provide a Meals on Wheels service, with a further three indicating they would discontinue it in 2014/15.
Relevant Issues and Options
7. In the Vale of Glamorgan, the number of people who use the Meals on Wheels service has reduced significantly. The service was delivering approximately 112 meals per day in 2012 and now the figure is approximately 78. At weekends, a reduced service operates and approximately 40 meals are delivered to Central and Eastern Vale. The Meals on Wheels service at the furthest end of the Western Vale was discontinued several years ago, following equipment failure in the local kitchen. Alternative meal services are available. Low demand levels and the additional distances involved in delivering to rural locations in the Western Vale mean that recommencing a service in this area is likely to incur additional cost
8. The charge for a meal in the Vale of Glamorgan was £3.30 in 2013/14 and rose to £4.10 in 2014/15. This was to bring the charge closer to the costs of preparing and delivering meals. Reductions in the number of meals provided mean that the expected rise in overall income through the price increase has not been fully realised. Based on the existing level of use, the price per meal would need to rise by just over £1 for the service to become cost neutral.
9. In 2013/14, the costs across Wales varied between £2.35 and £4.00. In 2014/15, the cost varied between £2.60 and £5.00. It is evident that authorities across Wales are seeking to increase the income generated by the service to reduce their overall costs.
10. In the Vale of Glamorgan, all Meals on Wheels are now prepared from the kitchens at Rondel House. This has enabled the service to be sustainable to date, even though the number of deliveries has reduced. However, the changing pattern of demand and the associated reduction in numbers does mean that it would be prudent to initiate a more comprehensive review of the service to consider how the needs of the population can be best met in the future. This would involve engaging with service users, carers and representative organisations to ascertain their wishes and views, including the merits of alternative models of provision.
Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)
11. The service has sought to become cost neutral, in line with previous budget plans. There are no current plans for savings linked directly to the provision of Meals on Wheels. However, Adult Services are expected to realise savings of £970k from 2017-2020 through reshaping services.
Sustainability and Climate Change Implications
12. The provision of an individual hot meal delivered by a vehicle involves the use of fuel. Alternative options exist which require fewer deliveries to be made.
Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)
13. There are no legal implications as a direct result of this report and its recommendations.
Crime and Disorder Implications
14. There are no crime and disorder implications as a direct result of this report.
Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)
15. There are no equal opportunities implications as a direct result of this report. An Equality Impact Assessment would be completed should any significant change be recommended following the planned review of the service.
16. This report contributes to the following corporate objective: "working with partners to meet the diverse needs of our residents in ways that will safeguard and support those who are most vulnerable and in greatest need; help people to keep fit and healthy; and increase social cohesion and equality of opportunity for all."
Policy Framework and Budget
17. This is a matter for executive decision.
Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)
18. This is an issue for the whole of the Vale of Glamorgan and so there has been no consultation of individual ward Members. Any future changes to the service will require engaging with service users, carers and representative organisations to ascertain their wishes and views, including the merits of alternative models of provision
Relevant Scrutiny Committee
19. Social Care and Health.
Lance Carver, Head of Adult Services
Corporate Management Team
Philip Evans, Director of Social Services