'It's nice to see someone coming in': Exploring the Social Objectives of Meals-on-Wheels
O'DWYER, CIARA MARY
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Citation:Timonen, V. and O'Dwyer, C., 'It's nice to see someone coming in': Exploring the Social Objectives of Meals-on-Wheels, Canadian Journal on Aging, 29, 3, 2010, 399 - 410
Despite the fact that meals-on-wheels have both nutritional and social aspects, there is a paucity of research on the social objectives of the service. This article set out to develop our understanding of the social objectives of meals-on-wheels and to explore the extent to which they are met by services in Ireland. A literature review suggested that meals-on-wheels have the potential to meet three social objectives, namely 1) providing meals recipients with social contact, 2) helping to re-stimulate an interest in meals and regularising mealtimes, and 3) helping to develop an acceptance of the service. Interviews were conducted with 66 purposively-sampled meals-on-wheels recipients in order to explore these themes and to augment them as necessary. Respondents derived limited social contact from the service, and there was considerable variance in staff awareness of this social dimension; the objective of regularising mealtimes was not important for most recipients; and many were reluctant to accept the service. The three objectives are therefore minimally met within the Irish system at present. The social objectives outlined in this article could be further developed into a set of criteria for evaluating the extent to which meals-on-wheels services fulfil them.
Series/Report no:Canadian Journal on Aging