More than just a meal


It’s More Than Just a Meal
Meals on Wheels aims to assist the elderly and those with disabilities to remain living independently for as long as possible. People may not be able to cook for themselves for a variety of reasons. Sometimes the service is received for a short time, such as after a hip replacement operation. In most cases the meals are provided on an on‑going basis for people who for various reasons are unable to prepare food for themselves.

The nutritional benefits of the service are complimented by the monitoring and social welfare component of the service. Volunteers often alert their supervisors if a client’s health is deteriorating. This early intervention and prompt medical attention can often prevent hospitalisation or in some cases, permanent care.

The role of Meals on Wheels Victoria

The Victorian Meals on Wheels (registered as Victorian Meals on Wheels Association Incorporated) is an industry group whose members are primarily made up of meals on wheels service coordinators and managers. We have strong links with MOWA (Meals on Wheels Australia) and have two members from Victoria on the National board.

Victorian Meals on Wheels is dedicated to the continuous improvement, promotion, and sharing of information and ideas for all Meals on Wheels providers throughout metropolitan and regional Victoria. It is our aim to raise the public profile of this valuable service and acknowledge the efforts of the paid and volunteer workforce.

We are also committed to the development and improvement of the service throughout the State. Most of our members work at grass roots level and have an innate understanding of the issues facing services and clients. It’s these issues that we can often address at our meetings and feedback to government

Best Practice Guidelines
The Commonwealth Home Support Program and Aged Care Quality Standards outline expectations of service providers within the Aged and Disability Sector. Meals on Wheels Victoria developed a set of Best Practice Guidelines in 2015 specific to Meals on Wheels to compliment these publications. They were written by members, for members, and after sector-wide consultation are due to be updated and republished in late 2020.  
Do Councils or Health Networks receive funding for meals in Victoria?
The Department of Health via the Commonwealth Home Support Program provide a baseline meal subsidy of $4.85 per meal (for over 65’s) and $3.50 for Home & Community Care Program for Younger People. The amount has been bolstered during Covid-19 depending on the requirements of each municipality. The cost of meals provision is made of service provider contributions and customer fees (usually between $8.00 and $11.00 per meal).
How do I know if I, or a relative, is eligible for meals?

The Meals on Wheels program is primarily funded by the Australian Government via the Commonwealth Home and Community Care Program (CHSP) for over 65s. To receive a subsidised meal service for CHSP you must contact My Aged Care on 1800 200 422 who will arrange an assessment. If the service is required urgently the assessment can occur after the service has commenced.

The Home & Community Care Program for Younger People (HACCYP) is subsidised by the State Government. To receive the subsidised service for HACCPYP, please contact your local Council who will provide details of the service in your area.

Alternatively see our Find Us, which will assist you to find the service in your area.

What does a meal consist of?
The majority of providers offer a Soup, Main Course, Dessert and Vitamin C supplement (usually fruit juice). 
How many meals can I have? How often are meals delivered?
This is based on an assessment of an individual’s need and support network. Some people purchase meals short term after an operation, or medium term due to illness, or long term. They can also receive meals two to three days a week, or 5 – 7 days a week depending on their needs. 
How much do meals cost?
Meal prices vary, although the average cost for a three-course meal is around $8.00 to $11.00 for eligible clients.
Is there a choice?
Menus vary depending on the service provider. Most large providers offer at least two choices a day. Dietary requirements are normally provided for – this may be via a separate menu – please ask your local provider. 
Are the meals delivered hot or cold?
Meals are delivered hot, chilled or frozen depending on the supplier.
Are any of these meals types better from nutritional point of view?
We unaware of any published research comparing the nutritional value of Hot, Chilled, Pasteurized or Frozen meals. 
When are meals delivered?
Meal delivery times vary from service to service. Most provide one three-course lunch-time meal. Most deliver Monday to Friday (with weekend meals provided on the Friday) and some offer weekend delivery as well. 
Who delivers my meals?
Staff or volunteers from the individual service provider will deliver meals to your door.
What if I cannot be home to receive meals?
If a customer cannot be home to receive a meal, we ask that they let their provider know as soon as possible. If someone fails to ring the office and cancel, and we then deliver and someone does not answer the door, we have a duty of care to follow up and emergency protocols to follow.
What do services mean by duty of care and monitoring?
Meals on Wheels Australia states that, “… monitoring a person’s health and well-being through telephone contact can be effective in some circumstances. However, the last thing most older people want to do is complain or ask for help. We believe services like ours take the best possible approach to monitoring. Through regular, frequent contact our delivery personnel develop trust, then listen and observe, almost like a family member would. They then take follow-up action as required, often preventing hospitalisation and even saving lives when a client fails to respond to a scheduled visit.
The term monitoring is the professionalisation of notions such as ‘looking out for’ and ‘caring’ and is often considered by clients and their families as more important than the actual meal. We also have a legal responsibility to report to next-of-kin if you do not answer the door. This is often referred to as “duty of care”. 
What if I am not happy with the service or my meals?
Ask your local provider what their feedback or complaints process is. If after engaging in this process you are unsatisfied with the response you can then write a letter to your local Mayor or counsellors or local MP. If you require an advocate to speak on your behalf you can use family or friends, or an advocacy service such as Office of the Public Advocate, Ph. 1300 309 337, or Senior Rights Victoria Ph. 1300 368 821 or National Aged Care Advocacy Line ph. 1800 700 600. 
Meals on Wheels Victoria - Commenting on Individual Services
Meals on Wheels Victoria do comment on individual services. If you are after information, or a story about a service, you must contact them directly. 
Does MOW Victoria conduct surveys and research?
It is up to each individual service to conduct surveys to determine if their clients are satisfied with the service and gather suggestions for improvement.  From time to time Meals on Wheels Victoria will conduct surveys of providers to determine their views, ideas and issues.