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With so much uncertainty in the world at present, it is great to celebrate something stable and reliable.

One long-standing organisation serving the community, Meals on Wheels continues to support the older and frail members of our community.

As National Meals on Wheels Day happens it is worth remembering what happens locally from our service when over 120 volunteers are rostered on to support 180 clients.

Eurobodalla Meals on Wheels serves our community from Durras to Mystery Bay each week in several ways.

Meals are delivered by a wonderful and dedicate team of volunteers. The smiles given by the dedicated and compassionate volunteers are welcomed each week by the clients. The opportunity for a quick chat with someone from outside the home calls by is highly valued when you live alone and have few social contacts.

According to the Manager (Alan Russell) these are important parts of the delivery process and the overall service offered by Eurobodalla Meals on Wheels volunteers. There is no cost, for a smile or a quick word, but they are of high value to both the client and the volunteer.

The local clients can pick, each week, from a menu which has 62 items on it. These range from soups to mini and large meals, to gourmet meals and desserts. Vegetarian meals, pureed meals and gluten free meals are all offered. Clients select what they like and have it delivered to their home each week on a predetermined day. The clients wait in anticipation and are never let down.

But Eurobodalla Meals on Wheels is like most other meals on wheels services and offers “More than a Meal”.

The Group Social Support section offers exciting events and activities through its well-known Out and About programme.

Clients have the opportunity to leave their home with new friends to take part in activities which range from music appreciation to book club, from craft and painting to visiting speakers and entertainers, from going to the movies to having lunch at different places and throughout they like to share a laugh.

“The wellbeing of our senior citizens is most important,” says Alan Russell. “We offer a range of adventures and activities from which the clients choose. Our bus collects them from home, takes them to the event and returns them home afterwards. It is a cheerful door to door service with fun, laughter, companionship, and lunch offered each day.”

“Individual Social Support allows our clients to have someone take them shopping, to complete some ‘courtyard gardening’, take them to appointments, or to visit to play cards, do a puzzle or share a cup of tea,” says Mr Russell. “This also helps to eliminate isolation and loneliness which are common issues amongst the older community.”

Other parts of our local programme include a monthly event at the Aboriginal community at Wallaga Lake in partnership with other support groups, and a new group for dementia clients and their carers.

“We are working towards soon introducing support for the ‘busy people’ in our community. There will be a variety of new meals available. These will be delivered or collected and will be quite separate from the Aged Care processes our clients presently are referred through.”

“We believe these may assist those who are working long hours or who are heavily involved in supporting other community events- coaching sports teams and the like,” says Mr Russell. “This could be a very exciting new phase for our organisation.”

Alan Russell said, “Our volunteers are the key to the success of Meals on Wheels. We can measure the number of meals and the hours of assistance, but how do you measure the genuine support our clients are offered each day by these people?”

“Too often this is forgotten by our leaders who are driven by data. They can forget the compassion and support given by so many volunteers”.

“If we totalled the hours given by these people and costed it out, no Government would want to foot that bill nationally.”

“Meals on Wheels across the country has a bigger workforce than Bunnings, or Telstra or NAB; and they are all volunteers. Today we remember their commitment and value their services.”

Eurobodalla Meals on Wheels is a great community-based service and without it many people would not be able to stay in their homes, enjoy fun and laughter and a great quality of life.

National Meals on Wheels Day is a wonderful time to reflect, celebrate the efforts of the smiling volunteers, and the service to the community that these people give; and a chance to offer thanks for the joy they take to each client when they visit.

It is also an opportunity to join and roster yourself onto the team as a volunteer or maybe become a client at Eurobodalla Meals on Wheels and be part of this community service.

National Meals on Wheels Day allows us to remember that helping your community at any time is important, but when you are in the middle of a crisis, it is vital and extremely worthwhile.

The Board has established a Timeline for the development of its new Stratgeic Plan,and all is going well until the Minister for Senior Australians makes an announcement!

Many things had been achieved and decided upon so that work on the Business Plan could start. All of this will be presented at the Annual General Meeting on 25th October in Moruya.

But one matter continues to raise its head. The question of funding is always to the fore and teh Minister has made it a very big issue for all Meals on Wheels outlets.

The Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services (Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck) made a media release on May 18th which spoke a funding boost of $7million to Meals on Wheels. This boost will benefit Meals on Wheels services in other states but not in New South Wales where up to 40% of the 148 outlets maybe forced to close as they do not get an increase, in fact soem will get a cut. We hope that the Minister may change his mind.

The other change would see  the timing of the payments affected and again there will be many services who would not be able to survive the three month transitional stage. Once again we hope the Minister may see fit to rethink this idea.

For us, like other outlets we would be affected but believe we will be able to see our way through the problem. However, we need to make sure our funding is not cut as this will impact upon our clients; as will the transition to a new payment system.

So while our plans for the future are exciting, with some innovation and exciting challeneges, the funding which underpins all our work is making the process difficult.

We do encourage the Government to think again on this matter and serve older Australians, especially those in New South Wales, with more care and respect; just as theya re doing fro the older Australians in other states.

The MInister stated, "This vital measure puts health and wellbeing of older Australians first, while strengthening the viability of meal providers across the country",  is not correct and the Minister should think again.

While we are a long way from Sydney, the Covid pandemic still affects the way we live our lives.

Since the outbreak in Bondi, things have changed regularly and we have had to respond.

Our Group Social Support programme called Out and About, takes our clients out for the day. They go to a centre for an activity day or on our highly regarded Lunch About either locally or outside of the Shire. But just as our exciting July programme started we had to cancel it, presently for two weeks There are too many uncertainties around the visitors clients and volunteers may have had; or who is visiting the area over the school holidays, and the possibility of passing on the virus. We do hope that we will start again on Monday 12 July.

Our Meals service continues We are able to deliver meals but masks are back on and volunteers are once again asked not to enter homes. Chats at the door will still happen but the loss of contact and the helping hand make the system not as it was! However we still have smiles for all our clients which can be seen in the eyes of the volunteers as they speak to each client at the door.

Individual Socal support work has also changed. The gardening still happens as it is outside but once again the conversation between volunteer and client is kept to a minimum; shopping is being done for the client not with the client so another loss of contact and conversation.

Our office is also making futher changes to its routines. Visitors have been signing in but now the QR scanning is happeneing. Masks are worn by staff and anyone entering.

On the good side we are still able to send a volunteer team to our clients and contact is made, a word is shared and a smile is given.

Thank you to the volunteers for continuing to serve others in this manner. Your work and assistance is greatly appreciated. While other organisations may have lost most of their volunteers, we have retained the majority of our dedicated team and are most thankful.

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About Meals on Wheels

Meals on Wheels is a household name and of course we do provide meals to people in their home, but did you know we are offer more than just a meal?  We also provide support to people to maintain and expand their social connections, through our Out and About Centre and through other in home social sevices. See our service page for more details

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