Home From Hospital Food Packs To Support Health And Social Care In Dumfries And Galloway

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Alliance between Health and Social Care Partnership and charity piloted

Support is being stepped up to get patients in Dumfries and Galloway home from hospitals and ease pressures on the health and social care sector.

The region’s Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) has joined forces with the charity Food Train to ensure people of all ages have enough food for at least 24 hours as they leave hospitals in Dumfries and Stranraer.

Special Home from Hospital food packs are being issued to those needing them to ease concerns around whether they will have adequate supplies.

The project is being piloted until the end of March as part of work to support staff across the health and social care sector, which is facing unprecedented pressures due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

It is being backed by a drive to recruit more volunteers to Food Train’s Meal Makers Service, which sees them make a home-cooked meal for an older person, typically once a week.

The Dumfries-based charity is also carrying out follow-up calls to those aged 65 and over who receive the packs within 72 hours of leaving hospital. These ensure they are well and whether they would benefit from any additional support services – including shopping delivery and befriending – to help them live better and healthier at home.

Food Train regional manager Helen McAnespie said: “This partnership is about helping people to get home from hospital and putting steps in place to reduce the chances of them being readmitted.
“The fact that there’s not enough food in the house can delay some people from getting home as soon as they are well enough to. These simple packs allow them to leave, while giving a chance for them to arrange to get stocked up or secure the support they need. They can help bridge the move from NHS to social care. 
“We can all see the pressures that the entire health and social care sector is under. This is a simple step that can make a practical difference in easing some of them.”

The packs – which contain dried and non-perishable foods – are paid for by Dumfries and Galloway Health and Social Care Partnership, with the goods collected and packed by Food Train’s volunteers, who work across the region.

They are currently being distributed to those needing them at Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary in Dumfries and the Galloway Community Hospital, Stranraer. It is hoped, however, that the scheme could be extended across community hospitals

Food Train is also supporting the NHS with transport home for older people who need it – another way of allowing discharge when they are well enough.

Julie White, Chief Officer of Dumfries and Galloway Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “The need to provide care and support to people often doesn’t end once they leave hospital. Many people heading home will be faced with challenges around ensuring they have necessary provisions, including meals.
“We’re delighted to be working in partnership with charity Food Train on the Home from Hospital pilot, which will help provide that support along with follow-up calls for further assurance that all is well.
“At a time of very considerable pressure right across the whole of the health and social care system in Dumfries and Galloway, this initiative should help support hospital discharges and enhance the support people are receiving within our communities.”

Food Train, meanwhile, has also joined forces with Third Sector Dumfries and Galloway to encourage more volunteers to sign up to its Meal Makers service.

It pairs people who love cooking and are happy to share an extra portion of home-cooked food with an older person who appreciates a freshly-prepared meal and a chat. 

And it is hoped that this push will also help those leaving NHS care.

Dumfries home economics teacher Nicola Reynolds, 52, has been paired with 95-year-old Elizabeth Wickenden, who lives just a few minutes from her, since June 2019. Such is their bond that Nicola has even taken her Christmas dinner.

Urging others to sign up, Nicola said: “You don’t have to be a hugely confident cook to do it – just be willing to make a little extra food once a week, to deliver it and have a nice chat. It’s a great experience to be part of.”
Elizabeth added: “It’s the company I like, as well as the food coming in. We’ve built a really nice friendship as well.”
Norma Austin Hart, CEO of Third Sector Dumfries and Galloway, said: “We are delighted to be working with Food Train on this project, as many vulnerable people still require support. Innovative partnership working will help get meals to those in need, delivered by a very experienced third sector organisation with deep roots in Dumfries and Galloway.”

To volunteer with Meal Makers, call 0800 783 7770 or email hello@mealmakers.org.uk.

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