Meals on Wheels offers more than just food
In the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life, it can be easy to forget the difference that simple things can make to someone. For many seniors across the county, a delivery of one meal a week makes more of a difference than giving them food for the day.
The Victorian Order of Nurses, (VON) has been delivering its Meals on Wheels program for a number of years as part of the charitable part of the organization. The program runs with the help of volunteers who deliver meals to those who request and pay for the service.
“I love it because I like seniors because they’re always glad to see you,” said Kathy Campbell, one of the regular volunteers who will usually do the route with her brother. Campbell became involved in the program just after she retired and heard that there was a need for volunteers. Not wanting to sit at home and do nothing, she applied to help with the program. Campbell and her brother deliver meals to a route with seven stops in Stellarton and at one point even served 13 people on their route. She shared that it takes her under an hour to complete the route after meals are picked up at Glen Haven Manor where they are prepared.
“They’re just so glad to see you,” said Campbell about delivering the food. During her time volunteering, Campbell has come to know those to whom she delivers and looks forward to chatting with them for a minute while she delivers their meal.
“They do a good job,” said John Lowery, one of the Meals On Wheels recipients. “It means a lot to me.”
Lowery shared that he has meals delivered once a week through the program as well as home care one day a week to help him. He has had meals delivered for a number of years and enjoys not only the meals but the smiles and conversation that comes with them. Campbell added that she can tell that clients are always happy to have a chat for a minute as well.
“It’s a great service because it’s a meal that I don’t have to cook,” chuckled Lowery who lives by himself and may not otherwise get to have meals like roast beef or other items that generally are made in large portions.
Campbell believes the program also helps the isolation of seniors who choose to stay in their home rather than moving to group homes or nursing homes.
“It’s a great idea, everybody should take advantage,” said Allistair Fraser, another of the residents on Campbell’s route. With classical music drifting through the airwaves in his apartment, Fraser invited Campbell in and was happy to chat for a minute. He said he felt that the service saves him a lot of time and trouble from having to prepare and clean up as well as being a reasonable price at only $5 per meal that includes the meal, soup, and dessert.
“I love it; I’ve been a part of it for a while,” smiled Peggy Kontuk, one of the residents on Campbell’s route. “I get them because I can’t cook too much.”
Campbell has been discussing with VON co-ordinators about extending the service to Thorburn and helping get set up for that project. It is still being looked at for costs with VON paying for meal preparation as well as stipends for volunteers and mileage for the volunteer drivers.
“I just thought there was a need there,” Campbell said. “It opens doors for a lot of things.
A personal take
In the interest of full disclosure, I would like to add that I am on the Board
for VON and it helped prompt me to do this story. However, I had no idea
of the true impact this would have on me when I pitched it. Two of my
grandparents stayed in their home until they passed and another is enjoying
the independence of living in their own home now.
Seeing these people I loved very much in that situation made me realize
the importance of senior independence because it gave them something
else to continue on for. Their independence was certainly helped by my large
family to help support and check in on them; however, not everyone has that.
Upon arriving at each of the houses along the Meals on Wheels (MOW) route,
it really struck me how much these once-a-week visits were about so much
more than a meal. Having that extra friend or knowing that you can look
forward to greeting someone every Friday afternoon is important. For
those who might not have a lot of mobility, visits are important.
Unfortunately, not everyone has a family to stop by and spend time with them.
In these cases, programs like MOW and CHAD are monumentally important.
You can see it on the faces of each client as they light up and invite you
inside and you can hear it in their voices as they tell you about their week
or the music playing or the things hanging on their wall.
Alone time might be important, but too much can hurt the soul in a way.
Humans are meant to be social, right up to our dying day. And honestly,
there is nothing more upsetting I can think of than being isolated and realizing
that you cannot seek social situations because of mobility and there might
not be anyone seeking to come and see you. Loneliness can be difficult to deal
with in the best of situations and mental health can have a huge effect on
our physical health. So if you have the opportunity, go visit someone
— it could be your elderly
neighbour, a relative that you don’t see much anymore, or even spend time
in a nursing home just talking. Just because you’re surrounded by people
doesn’t mean you can’t feel lonely.
Everyone needs a friend.