National Meals on Wheels Day

  • by Kate Bowman
  • August 30, 2022

National Meals on Wheels Day will be held on Wednesday 31 August 2022. It recognises the outstanding contribution of their 14 000 volunteers who ensure older Australians remain nourished and safe at home every day.

The Cowra/Grenfell Meals on Wheels service has been nourishing their local communities for over 60 years. Their dedicated team of over 250 volunteers assist people to access the community, provides daily contact, social interaction, health and wellbeing monitoring, outings, community luncheons, and even provide healthy lifestyle meal options to the public to ensure everyone is well nourished – mind, body and soul.

In Grenfell, they even have a small but dedicated team of volunteers trained to visit people receiving palliative care, providing support for them, their families, and carers.

Service Manager Denise Makin said that she could not thank the volunteers enough. “Both in Cowra and Grenfell, our volunteers always show amazing community spirit,” she said.

“We have had some trying times over the past two years. but everyday we have beautiful shining people stepping forward and willing to give their time freely to help others.

“It shows the wonderful community spirit we have and these actions build strong, resilient and caring communities.”

It’s not just the customers who benefit from Meals on Wheels. “Our service enables both vulnerable Australians and volunteers to remain connected to their communities at a time where it is needed most,” Denise says.

“We often hear of the impact our service makes to the people we serve, but meaningful volunteering also has a direct benefit to our wellbeing and sense of belonging.”

Knowing that volunteers from community service organisations such as Meals on Wheels are actively involved with people experiencing social isolation, who are frail or aged, and that they will be involved with people in the last 12 months of their lives, in 2016 Palliative Care NSW undertook research into what volunteers working in such settings understand about end of life and palliative care.

The study found that there is a common misconception that palliative care is a medical issue pertaining to acute care needed in the very last stage of life rather than a longer term underlying philosophy of care. All research respondents reported having volunteers who regularly provide social support to people in their last year of life yet only one recognised that this type of psychosocial support falls within the holistic framework of palliative care.

45% of respondents said conversations about death and dying have been raised by their clients. This willingness for discussion means it is important for volunteers to be trained effectively. Providing community visiting volunteers with training in palliative care allows them to better support their clients and monitor their wellbeing, as well as preparing them emotionally for the potential loss of a client.

You can download the report Investigating Understandings of Palliative Care within Community Volunteer Groups (Bowman, 2016) via the resources tab of this website.

PHOTO: Doug and Lesley Cumming (left), Chairperson Jan Nilsen (centre), and Service Manager Denise Makin (right).

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