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Caithness News Bulletins March 2003

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A new Meals at Home service is to be introduced for older, and other vulnerable people throughout the Highlands following a successful pilot carried out in the Inverness and Tain and Seaboard Villages.  The benefits will see a standard service of nutritious and affordable meals provided throughout the Highlands to a wider range of people and for the first time available 7 days per week, 52 weeks a year. The new service will reduce pressure on the Home Care Service allowing The Highland Council to meet the care needs of many more people within existing budgets.  Other savings will allow the development of improved volunteer home visiting schemes to give improved social contact, and to other much-needed social work services.

Those receiving the service will be able to order from a wide range of frozen meals, which are delivered to their homes at regular intervals.  They will also be given a tabletop freezer and microwave oven or alternative heating device to heat the meals provided.  Full training will be given in the safe use of the equipment.

The results from the pilot showed a high satisfaction level with the quality and range of the frozen meals. A two-course meal is provided for 2.62, including delivery of meals, administration of charging and any equipment needed. This provides 33% of a persons daily nutritional requirements.  It is estimated that the total annual cost of providing a meal at this price across the Highlands would be 774,500. The current cost of providing meals, which involves 3,417 home care hours per week, is estimated at 1,238,000.  Councillor Garry Coutts, Chairman of the Housing and Social Work Committee, said: The pressure on the Social Work Service for expansion of the home meals service, together with increased specifications such as choice, best value and health and safety considerations has meant that a radical approach is needed to meet demand.

I am delighted with the results of the pilot scheme, which have demonstrated that nutritious, enjoyable and affordable meals can be delivered to a greater number of individual homes at a more economic cost to the Council. This is especially true where it is not possible to provide a hot meal daily when this is needed or indeed in some rural areas not possible at all.  Freeing up the difference between the current and projected costs will enable us to reinvest in a much extended meals provision scheme and free a very
considerable number of home care hours for personal care at home. It is a win, win situation.  Soon, Social Work Services will be seeking tenders for the provision of the Meals at Home service.