National Meals on Wheels Network Host Successful 2nd Meals on Wheels Conference
The National Meals on Wheels Network – a network of meals on wheels providers across Ireland hosted its 2nd Annual Conference – “Meals In The Community” on Thursday 23rd November in the Tullamore Court Hotel.
The conference was an opportunity to bring providers and other key stakeholders together to share information, gain knowledge and discuss practically how the service can continue to be embedded as an essential frontline community service into the future.
The National Meals on Wheels Network was established in 2015 under the umbrella of Irish Rural Link and launched its website and an interactive map of over 260 Meals on Wheels providers in September 2021. The network supports these providers with the practical sharing of information but more importantly gives them the opportunity to have their voices heard to ensure their continued work to design a country-wide model which supports clients to live independently in their own homes.
Minister for Mental Health and Older People, Mary Butler TD with IRL CEO Seamus Boland, in the Tullamore Court Hotel.
Demand for Meals on Wheels has been increasing for many years and increased significantly during the Covid-19 pandemic. Over 2.7 million meals have been delivered to 120,000 service users so far this year. With an ageing population, demand is expected to continue to increase in the coming years. Meals on Wheels is more than just a meal. It also helps reduce isolation and loneliness with a social element to it. Meals on Wheels aligns with many of the objectives of Sláintecare – the Government’s healthcare framework – providing health and social care in the community and allowing people to age in their own home.
The conference was officially opened by Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People, Mary Butler, T.D. Speakers on the day included; the Assistant National Director Services for Older People Change & Innovation, Health Service Executive; Fiona McCafferty-Jones Truagh Spirt, Monaghan who spoke about their service, how they operate, the challenges they face and how they overcome them. A Conversation Salon workshop took place in the second half of the conference. This allowed providers to discuss their challenges and solutions; funding and additional income streams, staffing and volunteering.
Speaking about the conference, Seamus Boland, CEO of Irish Rural Link said: “This conference highlighted the important role Meals on Wheels plays in the delivery of health and social care in the community. Funding from the HSE for the full-time coordinator has allowed the network to grow and be a stronger voice for the service as well as being a support for providers and a platform for them to share learnings and information”.
Minister for Mental Health and Older People, Mary Butler TD said: “Supporting older people to live in their own homes, with the correct wraparound supports, is a clear focus of mine. The triangle of supports – of home care, day care and meals on wheels – is an essential part of ageing in place. The network of meals on wheels providers working across Ireland each day are so important, supporting 116,000 clients so far this year. For most, this is so much more than a hot, nutritious meal and it is a social connection with the community. I would like to sincerely thank all those who give so freely of their time, many of them volunteers, to provide this essential service.”