By Nigel Packer
Older people are so ignorant of meals-on-wheels provision that some of them think the service has been abolished, claims a new report. Even those who knew the service existed were unsure who provided it.
Meals-on-wheels providers are being urged to raise the profile of the service they offer, after new research revealed that a fifth of the UK's over-50s have no idea who offers the service in their area.
The Catering Futures report, conducted by frozen food distributor Apetito, said lack of awareness is highest in the West Midlands - at 29% - followed by the East Midlands at 26%. In Wales, 11% of the over-50s questioned believed the Community Meals Service had been phased out.
"Given that this age group is likely to be most in need, or at least likely to know somebody else who could benefit from the service, this suggests the service should seek a higher public profile," says the report.
In future it predicts that the service is "likely to become increasingly frozen bulk, will need to increase prices and will be more stringent in prioritising those in need" in the face of an ageing population and increasing financial constraints.
Cooking of pre-prepared meals from frozen en route was considered the most popular system for the 21st century among meals-on-wheels managers and the over-50s interviewed for the study.