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Do meals on wheels actually mean tea and company?

This week’s storyteller has chosen to be anonymous.

Ever wondered what a meals delivery means for your elderly relative? Is it a friendly face and a welcome chat to brighten their day or is it much more than that? Is it a break from the norm of spending their day in isolation with little social contact – a chance to engage with someone before being left to their own devices?

We’ve been speaking to a driver from our local apetito in Buckinghamshire who tells us about their round, what they provide for your parent on a day-to-day basis and the joys of the job…

The majority of the time I have the same route every day, delivering to the same people, although sometimes my round does change when regular customers go away or into hospital and new customers are added to my list. Seeing customers on a daily basis means that I get to know them quite well. Often you just click with people the first time you visit and you look forward to seeing them every day. One particular lady I visit is lovely and she’s always pleased to see me.

On a typical delivery I make sure, firstly, that the person I’m delivering to knows who I am. I always identify myself by calling out clearly. When you become a driver for apetito you’re taught how to conduct yourself around elderly clients – how to walk and talk etc. In some cases I have to plate up their meal and make sure they have the appropriate cutlery to eat it with and plenty to drink. In all cases I check that they are safe and well.

Providing a welfare check for all of my ageing customers is part and parcel of what I do and often I have to call their GP, family or, in extreme cases, the emergency services when something is seriously wrong. I make a habit of looking out for slight changes in my clients’ behaviour as this can be a warning of potential health issues which would need to be called into the office so that we can contact the next of kin.

The most important part of my job is making sure that the people I visit are ok. I always greet them with a smile and ensure that they’re eating their meals. I don’t get a chance to sit and talk with my clients but I do always chat when I arrive and start to dish up. For many of the elderly people I visit I am their only social contact.

I wouldn’t say that I provide companionship, as my visits to each person are fairly brief, but my customers trust me as their regular driver and they’ll often talk about personal issues with me, especially if they need help with something in particular. There are times when, yes, I’d like to stay longer with my customers but I realise I have many other people that rely on my visit as part of their daily routine.

For customers surviving on pensions, meals delivery is a good option as the portion sizes are decent and the meals nutritionally balanced. The fact that they’re delivered hot also helps those who are unable to cook as they’ll receive a proper meal daily.

I’d consider ordering ready meals for my own parents. It would give me peace of mind knowing that my loved ones were being visited each day and eating a substantial hot meal.

The best part about working for apetito is making a real difference to my customers’ lives through the provision of nourishment, continuity and a chance to have a good natter.

If you’d like to arrange for apetito to deliver hot meals to your parent you can find your local apetito service here.

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