National Meals on Wheels week - Four and a half million meals and counting!

Nothing is off the menu for the life changing local meals on wheels charity delivering 1,400 dinners per day!

Hertfordshire Independent Living Service (HILS) is celebrating National Meals on Wheels week as the UK’s largest charitable provider being the biggest not-for-profit service of its kind in the UK – delivering meals 365 days a year to elderly and vulnerable Hertfordshire residents.

Below right: Jessie, 98, one of thousands helped by this life changing local community meals service to live a healthier, happier, and less lonely life.

HILS will be welcoming local dignitaries, county councillors, MPs, and other prominent guests to its four sites across the county to see our teams in action and meet some of our wonderful clients. Our VIPs will spend a day helping our community teams to deliver meals to help raise awareness for National Meals on Wheels week.

Throughout this week alone, HILS will deliver around 10,000 hot meals and desserts across the county, with their drivers checking up on over 1,400 people every day.

Jessie, aged 98, is one of many Hertfordshire residents who has used the HILS meals on wheels service as a way to regain – and retain – her independence.

After having a fall and breaking her arm, Jessie was temporarily moved into a care home while she recovered, but was keen to get back to her own home where she lives alone. When she was ready to move back, Jessie’s care home set up meals on wheels for her return.

“And I’m not sorry that they did, the meals are delicious!” says Jessie.

HILS’ service has enabled Jessie to continue living at home and stay well-nourished. She now has hot meals on wheels seven days a week – and still has lots of tasty new food options to try from a range of over 200 meals!

“It has made my life much easier” Jessie says, “I would recommend the service to anyone! They really are lovely meals, and the menu has everything you could want! I enjoy all of the puddings, too.”

When delivering the meal, HILS team members also perform a crucial welfare check to make sure Jessie is okay. These checks can include anything from reminding someone to take their medication, making sure they are wearing their pendant alarm, even calling their friends or family if they don’t seem their usual self.

When faced with a crisis, many older and vulnerable Hertfordshire residents look to HILS for support. Last year, our team members were the first to find over 40 people who had fallen in the home and were unable to get help. Team members followed our emergency protocol by raising the alarm, then waiting with the client until the ambulance or next of kin arrived to see them safely on their way.

HILS Community Team Member, Ange, explains:

“I had a client recently who didn’t answer the door when I arrived. It turned out that the gentleman had fallen and had been on the floor overnight unable to call for help. He was ever so grateful and relieved to know someone would be checking up on him.

We’re the first port of call for so many people, even if someone just doesn’t quite look right, we look out for warning signs and we notice if something is wrong.”

This extra reassurance for family, loved ones, neighbours, and clients themselves, is reflected in HILS’ annual client survey results.

The 2018 survey showed that:

  • 93% of clients felt better nourished
  • 91% said the meals were good or excellent
  • 95% said they felt happier
  • 91% said they felt more independent
  • 87% said they felt less lonely as a result of seeing HILS’ friendly community team drivers
  • 86% said they were able to recover more quickly from illness
  • 71% felt that they visited their GP less

Councillor Colette Wyatt-Lowe, Cabinet Member for Adult Care and Health, said:
“HILS has literally changed the lives of tens of thousands of older, disabled and vulnerable people in Hertfordshire for the better.

“This service is not just about a hot meal – it helps reduce loneliness, improve health and maintains independence. It also helps older people to live independently in their own home, which is not only good for them but saves money for the public purse with reduced GP and hospital visits and fewer people going into care.”

Meals clients by district:

  • Watford: 164
  • St Albans: 194
  • Hertsmere: 89
  • North Herts: 243
  • Stevenage: 294
  • Welwyn: 156
  • Broxbourne: 206
  • Harpenden: 79
  • Potters Bar: 52
  • Hatfield: 75
  • East Herts: 312
  • Three Rivers: 176
  • Dacorum: 329

Notes to editor:

With Hertfordshire County Council’s (HCC) support, Hertfordshire Independent Living Service (HILS) has grown and developed over the last 11 years to become the largest not-for-profit meals on wheels service in the country. Providing nutritious meals and caring welfare checks to over 5000 Hertfordshire residents in their homes every year, and supporting an additional 1000 older people with shared meals at lunch clubs and other community venues, HILS is tackling malnutrition 365 days a year.