Apetito calls for the UK’s health and social care sectors to innovate by joining forces as new research from the NACC reveals just 48% of authorities now provide Meals on Wheels
Apetito, the UK’s leading creator and supplier of meals for the health and social care sector, is using Meals on Wheels Week to call on Government to direct more money into social care and to consider revolutionary measures such as merging health and social care budgets, to combat the alarming decline in Meals on Wheels services.
New statistics released today by the National Association of Care Catering (NACC), reveal the number of local authorities providing meals to vulnerable older people has dropped below 50% for the first time, compared to 66% two years ago. apetito agrees with the NACC, and believes under-investment puts older, vulnerable people at risk and will place unnecessary pressure on the NHS because meals services help prevent hospital admissions and extend the time older people can live independently at home.
apetito CEO Paul Freeston comments; “Meals on Wheels are a vital local service which support the most vulnerable in our society. There is a growing consensus that health and social care must be better integrated with increased focus on prevention, rather than cure.”
“NICE has previously identified better nutritional care as the third largest source of cost savings to the NHS. We also know from the recent CQC survey released in October that social care is creaking at the seams and something has to be done to support our ailing NHS. There is now an overwhelming amount of evidence pointing towards the need for a new and innovative approach in the adult social care sector.”
The NACC study, carried out by the Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE) for Meals on Wheels Week (7th – 11th November 2016), also revealed:
• 91% of providers expect there to be further reductions in service over the next 12 months
• £4.30 is the average cost of a two-course lunch (to the customer) which could prevent unnecessary 'bed blocking' hospital stays (the cost of keeping someone in hospital is an estimated £400 per day - Department of Health, 2015)
The average Meals on Wheels service supplies around 60,000 meals per year but it may come as a surprise to many to hear that the service is not statutory. Faced with challenging finances, many councils are being forced to withdraw the provision of this service, a false economy in the longer-term, as malnutrition accounts for nearly £20bn of health and social care spending in England (BAPEN, 2015*)
Paul Freeston continues; “Our own research and investigation has shown us that Meals on Wheels offers so much more than a meal. At present, funding and services aimed at preventing malnutrition are overwhelmingly directed to those in hospitals or in residential care. We know that many older people would prefer to stay independently, at home, given the choice. Meals on Wheels is one way in which we can help people to do that.”