Trust accused of trying to cut Meals on Wheels

The Western Trust has been accused of trying to cut community meals by “manufacturing a decline” in the demand for the meals on wheels service, which would lead to a rise in malnutrition.
The claim comes from the union Unison, which claims the figures have been manufactured.
A spokeswoman from Unison stated, “We believe there has been a deliberate attempt to manufacture a decline in the demand for the services by stealth, to make the service unsustainable and to encourage clients in the uptake of meals in the private sector.”
However, the Western Trust retorted that the “significant decline” in demands for community meals were due to a reduction in service users.
A spokesman from the Trust explained, “The Western Trust recognises that that there has been a significant decline in the demand for community meals, due to the increasing availability of other means of accessing meals and the reduction in service users.
“The Western Trust will continue to provide community meals to individuals who have been assessed, providing they meet the regionally agreed eligibility criteria.”
Despite this, it has been reported locally that elderly people are already being taken off lists, given shorter lunchtime slots, and receiving cold sandwiches instead of hot meals, with fears that further cuts to the service could result in it being completely gone by Christmas.
“On social media in the local community groups within Fermanagh, there is evidence of a clear demand for the services but we yet again reinforce the claim that access to the service has been blocked or made impossible or that clients and their families are being encouraged to go elsewhere in the private sector,” claimed Jill Weir of Unison.
“There is also the issue of consultation with stake holders but no mention of consulting with families or clients in receipt and it would be unacceptable not to involve them, only to maybe inform them later that the service is being withdrawn,” said the union representative.
“Our elderly can become very isolated within the rural communities, and sometimes this can be the only caller to their home.
“We believe that to decrease this service is a mistake by the Western Trust and we as a union will continue to oppose any reduction in this service,” she explained.

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