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East Sussex County Council has revealed intentions to scrap its ‘meals on wheels’ contract with single-provider Apetito. 

Not only will this affect a number of staff jobs, but the service was used to deliver main meals and desserts directly to the homes of elderly people to ensure they were properly fed and hydrated. 

The decision came as the council assessed it was no longer ‘economically viable’ to keep the service running after its 13-year contract. 

According to a report from January, only 490 residents received the adult social care meals, down from 540 in June of last year. Those who did had to apply for the service to verify they were eligible – if they could pay for their own meals from other providers, buy ready meals in supermarkets or pay for an in-house cook, they might not be entitled to the delivery service. 

However, now all vulnerable residents who depended on the service will have to look into other providers, with a few of them being eligible for regular ‘safe and well’ checks to ensure they are hydrated and warm. 

The news begs the question of how similar services will be affected across the country as social care budgets suffer dramatic cuts and the cap on elderly care costs is delayed until 2020

And while some East Sussex residents will be checked on “regularly”, an analysis by Age UK found that almost two-thirds of elderly citizens found it difficult to eat but did not receive any help – representing around 180,000 people nationwide.


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