District delivers 4000 meals to vulnerable residents' homes during COVID-19
Sajed Daoud depends on the readymade meals being delivered to his home.
"The meals have been very important for me," Sajed, whose left arm was partially amputated as the result of a fall at his Leichhardt apartment, said.
"I now only have one hand. It's hard for me to cook. I eat the readymade meals that are being delivered for lunch and dinner every day. It is nutritional food. I don't usually eat a lot of vegetables but now I am.
"So, this is saving my life," Sajed, 59, who lives on his own, said.
He's one of about 75 people receiving meals to his door each week– via a new, meal home delivery service set up by Sydney Local Health District in response to COVID-19.
The free service was the brainchild of the District's Aged, Chronic Care and Rehabilitation Team based at Concord Hospital.
"During the pandemic, many of the District's vulnerable older residents, or those living with a disability, have found it difficult or unsafe to access food," Julie-Ann O'Keeffe, the team's Operations Manager, said.
"Their usual community shopping service may have been temporarily suspended, supermarkets may be unsafe environments for them, and, at times, basic food supplies haven't been on the shelves.
"Food security became a real issue. So we decided to bring meals to residents at home instead," she said.
A Sydney-based catering company, Master Catering, came on board.
Ordinarily, the company supplies readymade frozen meals to the District's Kalparrin Day Centre which provides respite care for people with dementia and their carers. The Centre's closed, for now, due to COVID-19.
"It's a great idea to deliver readymade frozen meals to people's homes. It shows the District is thinking outside the square to care for their community," Ashley Eichmann, the company's Customer Service Manager, said.
The District purchases the meals which are then delivered to residents by George Tannous, a bus driver and assistant at the Kalparrin Day Centre. Strict food safety measures, and COVID-19 guidelines, are in place.
So far, George has delivered more than 4000 meals to people's homes across the District every Tuesday and Friday since the service began in March.
"They're really appreciative – their faces light up," George said.
"I help if they can't carry the bags inside or put the meals away themselves and have a bit of a chit-chat with them.
"I love seeing the smiles on their faces when I deliver the food. It's really rewarding to see them happy," he said.
Sajed looks forward to his conversations with George too.
"It is nice to have a chat because I am alone. When someone comes and has a chat with me, it's a blessing. He is doing a great job. I appreciate his work." he said.
NSW Health has shared the District's food delivery service model with other Local Health Districts and networks via the Aged Care Community of Practice which was established in response to COVID-19.
The District plans to maintain the service until residents are able to access their regular support services or informal carers are able to provide pre-prepared food or meal ingredients for them.