Duncan Whyte, of Dunedin, prepares to deliver meals in
Dunedin yesterday. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Age Concern says its Dunedin Meals on Wheels service
faced ''upheaval'' and lost about 10 volunteers when the
Southern District Health Board started delivering meals 30
minutes early without warning.
Age Concern Otago executive officer Susan Davidson said meals
were now dropped off at 11.15am at Bath St, sometimes
Recipients now get the meals, for which they pay $5, as early
Ms Davidson said while the system was settling down, she
believed meals were better delivered to their recipients
around noon. Some volunteers could no longer fit the task
into their lunch break, and she feared future recruitment
would not be as easy due to the changes.
''It has made us rather grumpy and ... resulted in the loss
of some long-term volunteers.
''We are very aware that the changes have resulted in some
drivers having to give up a volunteer role which they really
valued,'' Ms Davidson said in the group's March newsletter.
She said Age Concern was not advised of the change, which
came to light on Christmas Day, when volunteers turned up to
find the health board had got taxis to deliver the meals.
The resulting ''kerfuffle'' was awkward for Age Concern,
given volunteers gave up their own time on Christmas Day.
When the same early time affected deliveries on Boxing Day,
the organisation contacted the health board and was advised
the meals were being dropped off earlier.
Ms Davidson said the board changed its delivery time to
Wakari Hospital in September, but advised of no change to the
other three Dunedin pick-up points.
The health board issued a statement yesterday saying the
earlier deliveries were phased in from September to December.
Women's, children's and public health general manager Elaine
Chisnall said in a statement an increased workload because of
changes to inpatient meal times and new staff cafes prompted
the earlier deliveries.
''We need to ensure that we are meeting the needs of those
who receive the meals and the dedicated volunteers who
deliver them. We will work with Age Concern to ensure that
this is happening.''