NO elderly person must go hungry if a Meals on Wheels service is ditched in Thurrock, councillors have demanded.
The council is considering axing the service and closing two day centres to save more than £500,000.
A report to councillors on the health and wellbeing committee said the proposals would rationalise care and save on buildings in order to deliver a better service.
Labour’s Victoria Holloway, vice chairman of the committee, voiced concerns over the loss. She said: “I was quite upset when I read in the report, specifically on the Meals on Wheels Service, that it was a nice to have service rather than an essential one. I think many of us would agree that its actually far more than the delivery of a food meal. I think we know that many staff check on the medication residents have taken, check on their general wellbeing, just checking on lots of our elderly people who sadly don’t have lots of visitors. It’s much more than just a delivery service.
“I’m concerned there hasn’t been a proper consultation. There was just a satisfaction survey. I think there does need to be a proper consultation where people are asked this question because it might be different under those circumstances.”
Ms Holloway said 66 per cent of service users had alternative options in a satisfaction survey but she added: “What about the other 34 per cent of our residents?
“These are our older people and we really do need to make sure they are okay. Even if one person is worse off, that could be one of our relatives and we would be really worried about that. There doesn’t appear that there is a service yet to replace it.”
Councillors heard no decision could be made on a replacement service until a decision was made to close the current one, but that there were a “wide range of alternatives”. If councillors sanction the move, any alternative service would not start until the next financial year.
Prior to the pandemic, day care services were delivered from the Bellhouse centre in a converted shop in south Ockendon, Kynock Court sheltered housing scheme in Stanford-le-Hope and a centre in Cromwell Road, a purpose-built site with a number of rooms for varied activities.
It is planned to only offer the service at Cromwell Road from 9am to 4pm.
However, councillors raised concerns over transport to the centre which for some would be an extra ten minutes and for others a shorter journey.
Despite the concerns councillors broadly welcomed the proposals which will include wellbeing teams providing tailor made care plans for people and providing more day care activities on one site.
Chairman Shane Ralph said: This is not closing down any service. This is relocating into a better venue that already exists. I like the idea of the wellbeing individual care packages. I see we are now going to be increasing to teams of ten staff.”