‘It’s not just about the dinner; it’s about everything else that we do’: A qualitative study exploring how Meals on Wheels meet the needs of self‐isolating adults during COVID‐19 - Papadaki - - Health & Social Care in the Community


In March 2020, an estimated 1.5 million folks most weak to COVID-19 have been instructed to defend in England. An additional 17.7 million adults aged ≥70 years have been instructed to remain at residence as a lot as doable, as they have been thought of to be at elevated threat of an infection (UK Cupboard Workplace, 2020). Many of those people won't have had adequate assist from households and neighborhood sources to entry sufficient and nutritious meals, nor the monetary sources or functionality to organize their very own meals. These elements are established as contributing to undernutrition in older adults who're housebound (Locher et al., 2008). Coupled with the truth that roughly one in seven adults aged ≥65 years is at medium or excessive threat of malnutrition (BAPEN, 2018), the necessity for all weak people to entry nutritious meals through the pandemic grew to become crucial.

Meals on Wheels (MoWs), as a service supplied by 42% of native authorities throughout the UK (UK) (Nationwide Affiliation of Care Catering, 2018), could be essential in delivering meals to housebound adults. Constant proof means that MoWs enhance nutrient intakes in older adults (Wright et al., 2015; Zhu & An, 2013) and provide advantages that stretch past diet, together with the availability of welfare checks, alternatives for social interplay, decreased charges of isolation and improved high quality of life (Campbell et al., 2015; Thomas et al., 2016). The usage of MoWs has additionally been linked to decreased want for residential care, by serving to weak people stay impartial of their properties and communities and ‘age in place’ (Altshuler & Schimmel, 2010; Thomas & Mor, 2013). These useful outcomes current important preventative measures, and would undoubtedly have change into extra essential through the pandemic, which elevated demand for the service within the UK (Maintain, 2020).

A latest qualitative research in america of America (USA) that explored the perceptions of MoWs drivers about their interactions with shoppers confirmed most of the aforementioned advantages (Thomas et al., 2020). A lot of the analysis on the advantages of MoWs, nonetheless, comes from the USA and Canada (Winterton et al., 2013), and due to this fact won't be generalisable to the UK. No analysis up to now has examined the perceptions of MoWs service suppliers in England, significantly as regards to the advantages of MoWs and the challenges confronted by the service. Additional, no research has explored how these experiences modified through the first nationwide UK lockdown (March-June 2020). The intention of this research was due to this fact to discover these points amongst drivers who ship the meals, service coordinators and managers in two native authorities (LAs) in South-West England. The research was funded as a part of an initiative to offer proof to tell coverage actions for safeguarding essentially the most weak (Papadaki et al., 2021), significantly through the pandemic. Findings from this small-scale, native research contribute to the proof base informing future interventions and insurance policies aiming to boost the MoWs service.


2.1 Examine design and members

Semi-structured interviews have been carried out in September 2020 with workers of MoWs providers in two LAs in South-West England, which have been conveniently and purposively chosen in line with geographic location (city and semi-urban). MoWs managers within the two LAs have been invited by e mail to behave as gatekeepers for participant recruitment. This concerned circulating a research invitation to all MoWs workers who interact instantly with shoppers (n = 23 and n = 20, within the LAs serving city solely and semi-urban areas, respectively). A complete of 19 workers initially expressed curiosity in taking part. Of those, one was not accessible for an interview; the remaining 18 workers participated. Information assortment and evaluation proceeded in parallel and saturation was deemed to have been reached after the sixteenth interview (Harris et al., 2009). The research is reported following the Consolidated Standards for Reporting Qualitative Analysis (COREQ) tips (Tong et al., 2007) (Desk S1).

2.2 Information assortment

Semi-structured interviews, lasting 28–56 min, have been carried out by way of phone and audio recorded. Two interview guides have been developed to discover the experiences of MoWs drivers, and workers with office-based duties (Appendix S1-S2). The guides weren't piloted, however have been knowledgeable by latest analysis exploring the interactions between MoWs drivers and shoppers within the USA (Thomas et al., 2020), and developed additional to discover subjects that addressed the precise goals of the present analysis. In abstract, the interviews explored members’ experiences working inside the service and delivering meals to shoppers, their perceptions on the advantages of MoWs to older adults, and the challenges they confronted of their job and people confronted by the service extra typically. Individuals have been additionally requested to explain a typical meal supply interplay and to debate whether or not they provide another help to their shoppers, other than delivering the meals. The interviews additionally facilitated the exploration of whether or not members’ experiences with shoppers and delivering the service may need modified through the first nationwide UK lockdown, and their perceptions of the implications {that a} new wave of infections may need on them personally, their shoppers, and the MoWs service extra typically.

All interviews have been carried out by the second creator, an skilled qualitative researcher. No prior relationship had been established between the interviewer and members. Individuals have been requested to report their position, and what number of years they'd been working for the service. Notes have been stored through the interview to assist probe for extra info and confirm responses at transcription. On the finish of the interviews, a abstract of details was offered to members, which helped to verify accuracy of responses (Korstjens & Moser, 2018). Interviews have been transcribed verbatim and anonymised; transcripts have been in contrast with recordings and subject notes to confirm credibility.

2.3 Information evaluation

Information have been analysed thematically (Braun & Clarke, 2006). The second creator learn by the 18 transcripts and coded them inductively, which concerned preliminary coding of the info into broad codes. This was adopted by a means of secondary coding, the place information have been analysed line-by-line to create particular codes. The fifth creator independently coded 30% of the transcripts (n = 5) to make sure rigour of the coding course of (Korstjens & Moser, 2018). Any discrepancies have been mentioned, after which the coding course of was refined; the second creator then coded all transcripts utilizing this codebook. Any new codes have been famous, discrepancies have been mentioned and the codebook was refined. The codes have been organised into themes and sub-themes, and additional reviewed by the group to make sure coherence inside and throughout themes (Elliott, 2018).

NVivo software program (model 12.0, QSR, Southport, UK, 2018) was used to facilitate the coding. Themes and sub-themes are illustrated with consultant quotations from members (indicated as P1-P18 and driver (D)/office-based position (O)). Further quotations are offered in Desk S2.

2.4 Moral concerns

The research was accredited by the College for Coverage Research Analysis Ethics Committee on the College of Bristol (SPSREC/19-20/115) and complied with the European Normal Information Safety Regulation. Participation was voluntary. Individuals have been supplied with an info sheet describing the goals and processes of the research, offered written knowledgeable consent previous to interviews and obtained a £10 reward voucher as a token of appreciation.


Interviews have been carried out with 18 MoWs workers (Desk 1). Individuals had labored with MoWs for a median of 10.7 years, and all have been paid workers. Findings are introduced beneath 5 themes (Desk 2).

Participant traits

Native authority 1 (city)

(n = 13)

Native authority 2 (semi-urban)

(n = 5)

Male 5 (38.5) 1 (20.0)
Feminine 8 (61.5) 4 (80.0)
Position within the service
Driver 8 (61.5) 4 (80.0)
Buyer advisor 2 (15.4)
Supervisor/service coordinator 1 (7.7) 1 (20.0)
Operations Officer 1 (7.7)
Rounds coordinator 1 (7.7)
Years of working within the service (imply and normal deviation) 9.1 (12.8) 14.9 (5.1)


  • Numbers characterize n (%), except in any other case said.
Themes and sub-themes ensuing from the thematic evaluation
Theme Sub-theme
Advantages to shoppers

- Encouraging shoppers to eat and hold bodily energetic

- Finishing up chores for shoppers

- Finishing up welfare checks

- Figuring out, addressing and lowering isolation and loneliness

- Selling independence and rehabilitation following hospital discharge

Advantages to workers

- Sense of delight, giving one thing again, being caring

- Reciprocal optimistic relationships with shoppers

Being the fourth emergency service

- Being the primary responders

- Getting meals to shoppers throughout antagonistic circumstances

Wider advantages to the neighborhood - Lowering pressures on households
Challenges confronted by the service

- Organisational challenges

- Restrictions on time spent with shoppers

Challenges that emerged through the pandemic

- Calls for on sources

- Impression on consumer and employees wellbeing

- Considerations about the way forward for MoWs, significantly in additional lockdowns

3.1 Advantages to shoppers

3.1.1 Encouraging shoppers to eat and hold bodily energetic

Drivers reported that they encourage shoppers to eat as a part of their position. Nonetheless, this relied on the person circumstances of every consumer, with some needing extra encouragement than others. You may go in to a gentleman who's in his 70s who's match as a flea. So you might be in there, meals down. They're superb. Go on to the following one who has dementia, it's a completely completely different ballgame. You plate the dinner. You are taking it to them, the cutlery. Clarify, ‘there's the meals, go away it for a minute, it's scorching’ (P1/D). Most members reported that selling bodily exercise to shoppers shouldn't be a part of their position, as they're ‘not skilled in that’ (P5/O). Nonetheless, some drivers mentioned how they attempt to encourage shoppers to maneuver extra, which included strolling to the desk to eat, moderately than bringing shoppers their meal on a tray, and welcoming shoppers to take a wander round the home to ‘get them up and transferring’ (P12/D).

3.1.2 Finishing up chores for shoppers

Individuals mentioned how they perform completely different chores for shoppers after they ship meals, each inside and out of doors the house. A number of indicated the significance of this, significantly for shoppers who had mobility difficulties. Simply common: examine the gasoline meter, change the batteries within the clock, put the clock again to the proper time. Discover somebody's glasses. Shut home windows, open home windows… Simply small issues typically (P15/D). Different chores included managing garbage and recycling, altering lightbulbs and guaranteeing shoppers have easy accessibility to the phone.

3.1.3 Finishing up welfare checks

Individuals reported how, way over delivering a meal, their position included finishing up welfare checks. It was argued this was a profit stemming from MoWs being run by the LA, and never a personal firm. I feel the benefit of the Metropolis Council service over, for instance [private food delivery company], is that we provide that form of safeguarding and interplay bit (P11/D). As a part of these checks, members checked for security issues and family hazards, together with journey hazards, whether or not the heating works, checking the fridge for previous meals and checking for gasoline leaks. As well as, members from one LA had obtained coaching in treatment prompting and due to this fact prompted shoppers to take their treatment. Nonetheless, members within the different LA acknowledged this can be a service they're unable to offer with out receiving the suitable coaching. Total, welfare checks have been thought of ‘little issues to us, however they're … important to them’ (P3/D).

3.1.4 Figuring out, addressing and lowering isolation and loneliness

Social interplay can also be an essential a part of the MoWs service and a strategy to establish, tackle and cut back isolation and loneliness in shoppers, because it helps with ‘taking the anxiousness ranges down a notch’ (P18/D). Social interplay was deemed significantly essential throughout lockdown; members reported that their shoppers have been feeling extraordinarily lonely as they weren't being visited by members of the family ‘due to the worry of COVID and passing it on’ (P1/D). This participant additionally highlighted that for some shoppers, they're the one particular person they see on any given day. You go in there and also you see their faces mild up… they're completely delighted to see you… since you could be the one individual that they see every day (P1/D). Consequently, and in response to every consumer's presenting wants, one MoWs supervisor described how they signposted shoppers to different providers, which could provide assist and alternatives to have interaction with others, for instance on-line courses and teams being run by older folks's charities.

3.1.5 Selling independence and rehabilitation following hospital discharge

Individuals additionally mentioned how MoWs are essential for selling independence and enabling shoppers to ‘keep that bit way more impartial in their very own residence’ (P3/D). Specifically, the welfare checks carried out by MoWs drivers have been perceived to assist older adults to stay in their very own properties moderately than be admitted to residential care. One participant highlighted how this protects on healthcare prices. On one stage, we're saving the council hundreds, given the actual fact persons are staying in their very own residence… In case you are a personal consumer, it's round £6.60 you pay for meals on wheels… Residential care, you're looking at £5,000 to £7,000 per week (P13/O). The service was additionally deemed essential in selling rehabilitation following hospital discharge. Some drivers famous enhancements in shoppers’ well being and exercise over time after receiving MoWs post-discharge. We see lots of people who come out of hospital and may't cook dinner for themselves. So, over the weeks, you will see them rising in energy and rising in confidence, after which they're going to return to cooking their very own meals (P4/D).

3.2 Advantages to workers

3.2.1 Sense of delight, giving one thing again, being caring

Individuals overwhelmingly reported that they get pleasure from working for MoWs and that it was the social and caring facets of the job that they discovered interesting, in addition to giving them a way of delight. This was significantly evident through the pandemic. Not too long ago I skilled a spherical of applause from one neighbour of an aged particular person I used to be delivering to and numerous effectively dones from strangers which, though embarrassing, stuffed me with a way of delight (P10/D). Some members additionally highlighted how working for MoWs and supporting essentially the most weak helped them to offer one thing again to their neighborhood. Being caring was additionally an essential trait that some members iterated. Due to the character of the drivers, they're all very caring…They do not prefer to see [clients] battle…it is not one thing you'll be able to prepare them on actually (P14/O).

3.2.2 Reciprocal optimistic relationships with shoppers

Individuals mentioned the rewarding nature of growing long-term relationships with their shoppers. They highlighted that the time they spend speaking with shoppers, significantly those they've been delivering meals to for a few years, helps construct relationships which are mutually rewarding: since you do it day by day, 5 days every week, week in week out, it is superb how a lot you change into, not part of their lives, however really feel that you just actually join with them (P18/D).

3.3 Being the fourth emergency service

3.3.1 Being the primary responders

Individuals mentioned how drivers delivering the meals are sometimes the primary responder to an emergency. This included discovering members on the ground, witnessing a well being incident (e.g. a stroke), realising that shoppers’ properties had been damaged into, and discovering that shoppers had died. They reported that in conditions requiring an instantaneous response, drivers would stick with the consumer till assist arrived and they might notify the MoWs workplace, who would then contact members of the family and the social providers, to speak these emergencies to all related events. Individuals additionally reported on how they work collectively with different emergency companies, together with the fireplace service (e.g. to put in smoke alarms), the police and medical emergency departments to make sure shoppers’ wellbeing. One participant highlighted {that a} good thing about MoWs being coordinated and delivered by the LAs is that they've direct entry to social providers. I suppose one of many advantages of us being within the council is it is rather straightforward for us to coordinate with different companies… We now have received entry to the social service system right here with rapid factors of contact, which I form of get the impression perhaps neighborhood teams would battle with. So I do suppose it's one thing that ought to keep inside the council (P13/O).

3.3.2 Getting meals to shoppers throughout antagonistic circumstances

Individuals reported how they're ‘a lifeline’ (P12/D) and go above and past to proceed delivering meals to shoppers throughout antagonistic circumstances, such because the pandemic and intervals of maximum climate. One participant described that MoWs was perceived by one consumer because the ‘fourth emergency service’. I always remember a basic evening when it was actually unhealthy snow and I delivered to at least one girl and she or he was similar to… She was almost in tears, she stated, ‘I actually thought I wasn't going to see anyone at present or get any meals. You're feeling just like the fourth emergency service’ (P12/D).

3.4 Wider advantages

3.4.1 Lowering pressures on households

Each the deliveries, and the checks on shoppers, have been perceived to alleviate pressures on households and/or carers, who won't solely be unable to offer meals, but in addition rapid assist for his or her weak kin. This was significantly the case through the pandemic, which prevented households from caring for his or her kin attributable to journey restrictions. Particularly throughout COVID. Not less than the households have been reassured that someone was stepping into to examine on their kin and that they have been getting one thing to eat (P3/D).

3.5 Challenges confronted by the MoWs service

3.5.1 Organisational challenges

Individuals expressed issues concerning the service being beneath ongoing risk of closure and highlighted that MoWs will change into extra important sooner or later, because the ageing inhabitants will increase. Funding was recognized as an essential difficulty for the service to proceed, with some members highlighting the necessity for the nationwide authorities to acknowledge that MoWs present extra than simply meals. We merely haven't got the infrastructure to fulfill the demand… significantly as… Councils have actually been stripped to the bone of funding… now with COVID-19 we will anticipate in all probability two, three years down the road much more cuts. I do really feel if we will get this on a nationwide stage, whether or not it may very well be given the respect and appreciation it in all probability deserves, the meals service (P13/O). Lowered sources had led one LA to outsource their administration to exterior personal firms. This raised issues about drivers feeling much less supported by the brand new administrative groups. A number of members highlighted the significance of understanding shoppers’ particular person wants and the native context, and that that is generally tough for outsourced administration groups to attain. The admin a part of the group has been outsourced… you get numerous complacency inside the service. I feel, as a group with [name of Council], we actually knew our shoppers… for me, I do not all the time really feel – and the drivers do not all the time really feel –fully supported (P5/O). Individuals additionally largely reported that the service doesn't obtain adequate publicity, as many individuals allegedly have no idea that MoWs nonetheless exist, or that the service goes past meal supply to assist weak people. One other perceived false impression of the general public, which some members acknowledged, is that MoWs are solely meant for older adults. ‘Ensuring our service was recognised once more, and the worth of it’ (P16/O) was described as one of many largest challenges MoWs face.

3.5.2 Restrictions on time spent with shoppers

Individuals mentioned how the time accessible to ship meals to their shoppers is restricted, as meals must be delivered inside deadlines. This had implications for interactions with shoppers, and was typically a reason behind upset for drivers, who discovered it ‘laborious to ship a meal and never keep for longer to talk figuring out that many of the day the shoppers will probably be lonely within the present lockdown’ (P10/D). Drivers appeared to beat this restriction by alternating the period of time they spend with completely different shoppers day by day, doing administrative duties beforehand and multi-tasking whereas at a consumer's residence, e.g. wanting round the home for hazards whereas plating a meal. Nonetheless, a number of recommended that extra time needs to be spent with shoppers. Not less than about 20 min, half an hour would in all probability be good. Some folks do want that little bit extra time (P3/D).

3.6 Challenges that emerged through the pandemic

3.6.1 Calls for on sources

Individuals reported an unprecedented demand for the service through the first COVID-19 lockdown. This was compensated to an extent by redeploying employees, hiring extra autos and growing orders with meals suppliers. Nonetheless, demand for drivers was nonetheless evident, significantly if present drivers fell sick and wanted to self-isolate. Demand on private protecting tools (PPE) additionally elevated and PPE was not all the time accessible through the first lockdown. However, the service appeared to transcend expectations to supply contingency plans and stick with it all through the pandemic. I imply, we have our employees. A few of our employees would do time beyond regulation as effectively. I cowl rounds in emergencies. So, sure, I’m positive we might discover folks that may be capable to do it (P16/O).

3.6.2 Impression on consumer and employees wellbeing

A direct repercussion of the elevated demand for MoWs throughout lockdown was that the time accessible to work together with shoppers was additional decreased, which compromised drivers’ potential to conduct welfare checks. This was significantly the case when drivers needed to make doorstep deliveries. The usage of PPE additional compromised time spent with shoppers, as treasured time was taken up with placing tools on every go to. Individuals additionally perceived that PPE made communication with shoppers difficult. The masks, one girl was very upset that I used to be carrying a masks…I stated, “Look, have you ever been watching the information?” “Sure,” and I stated, “Look, I’m nonetheless right here. I’m beneath the masks, but it surely's actually right here simply to maintain you secure and ensure we do not, form of, cross on something to you.”In time, they've gotten used to it (P11/D). Individuals additionally reported elevated issues about their very own psychological and bodily wellbeing, significantly at first of the pandemic, and the way they have been anxious about catching COVID-19 and spreading it to their households, but in addition their shoppers. The scenario was significantly demanding for these members who didn't have entry to PPE at first of the lockdown, and this was ongoing for many who continued to enter shoppers’ properties and didn't conduct doorstep deliveries. Some members additionally talked about how seeing their shoppers through the lockdown impacted on their very own psychological wellbeing. Undoubtedly mood-wise, I get lots of people now in tears, saying they're lonely, they're frightened. That is laborious (P7/O).

3.6.3 Considerations about the way forward for MoWs, significantly in additional lockdowns

Some members expressed issues about how MoWs will cope within the case of steady lockdowns. Particular issues revolved round elevated demand, meals sourcing and human sources, significantly ‘if our drivers begin having to self-isolate themselves’ (P14/O). However, they remained optimistic that the service would discover a strategy to proceed supporting essentially the most weak, as ‘I do not suppose there's something we would not attempt to do for these folks’ (P12/D). Particular contingency plans included using informal employees and ensuring they'd adequate shares of PPE. However, some members have been well-aware that the long run effectiveness of their service depended extremely on the assist obtained from LAs and the nationwide authorities. I feel the problem, when life does return to regular, is how these issues are perceived by the Metropolis Council themselves and by nationwide authorities when it comes to how they fund it and the place they proceed to assist it by further funding, acknowledging the truth that it is not merely a meals supply service (P11/D).


This research exploring the experiences of MoWs workers in two English LAs highlights the broader advantages of the service, with members drawing consideration to the emergency response the service entails to make sure shoppers’ wellbeing. Individuals offered essential insights on the challenges they encounter, together with COVID-specific challenges, and those who the service faces extra extensively. These findings add to the restricted world literature round the advantages and challenges of MoWs, and form an important formative analysis proof base for the event of interventions and insurance policies aiming to assist weak people, significantly throughout persevering with lockdowns, but in addition past the COVID-19 pandemic.

Individuals reported that MoWs deliver quite a lot of advantages to shoppers that stretch past diet. These embody finishing up chores and welfare checks for shoppers. That is in settlement with a US research, which discovered that MoWs drivers carry out important duties round shoppers’ properties, increase consideration to potential hazards and conduct security checks (Thomas et al., 2020). Different research have highlighted the position of MoWs in lowering isolation and loneliness, in addition to in selling independence and reducing the necessity for residential care and healthcare prices, which was confirmed by the present findings (Thomas et al., 2016; Thomas & Mor, 2013). Of observe, members within the present research talked about that for some shoppers, MoWs drivers are the one folks they see on any given day. The advantages of social interplay that MoWs shoppers obtain have additionally been reported in earlier research (Grant & Jewell, 2004; Timonen & O'Dwyer, 2010). As housebound people are prone to report depressive signs (Sirey et al., 2008), these findings recommend that MoWs are an essential neighborhood useful resource to scale back social isolation of housebound weak people.

A singular discovering of the present research was that some drivers inspired their shoppers to maneuver extra, though selling bodily exercise shouldn't be a part of the service's remit. Contemplating that bodily exercise amongst housebound people is difficult (Szanton et al., 2016), MoWs might function an essential neighborhood intervention to advertise motion on this inhabitants, with cautious planning to account for shoppers’ particular person circumstances. As well as, solely these members who had obtained coaching in treatment prompting have been allowed to remind their shoppers to take their drugs. Increasing this coaching for all LAs providing MoWs may present an important lifeline for shoppers with cognitive decline, who're a substantial proportion of MoWs recipients (Altshuler & Schimmel, 2010; Xu et al., 2010). Additional, we discovered that MoWs drivers are sometimes the primary responders in emergencies, which helps analysis amongst recipients of MoWs in Eire (Timonen & O'Dwyer, 2010). One other distinctive discovering of the present research is that the MoWs service collaborates with emergency and social providers to make sure that weak shoppers are cared for. The service additionally goes ‘above and past’ to proceed delivering meals in antagonistic circumstances, equivalent to during times of maximum climate and the COVID-19 pandemic, suggesting its essential position in defending essentially the most weak.

Our findings concerning the advantages of MoWs on workers themselves add to the restricted proof base and corroborate these of a US qualitative research (Thomas et al., 2020). We discovered that working on this service exerts a way of delight for giving one thing again to the neighborhood. Individuals additionally described the event of reciprocal and caring relationships with their shoppers, that are equally rewarding to themselves as to their shoppers. Although all members within the present research have been paid workers, these findings are essential for different MoWs settings globally that rely closely on volunteers; the reported perceived advantages of working for the service needs to be highlighted to incentivise recruitment and lift consciousness that this position entails extra than simply delivering a meal.

A number of challenges confronted by MoWs emerged from the present research. Individuals highlighted that there are ongoing issues about funds cuts and repair closures, which might be significantly regarding if an more and more ageing inhabitants led to important service demand (Campbell et al., 2015). That is significantly important, provided that quite a lot of ageing and environmental elements, together with bodily challenges, difficulties round meals consumption and entry and use of transport are widespread in older adults, and recognized as contributing to their want for meals help (Lee et al., 2005a; Warren et al., 2020). Regardless of their projected advantages in lowering healthcare and long-term care prices (Meals on Wheels America, 2020; Thomas & Mor, 2013), MoWs are struggling funds cuts globally, or don't obtain adequate funding to maintain up with the necessity for the service; this hinders their potential to ship neighborhood providers to essentially the most weak and their capability to answer elevated service demand (Gualtieri et al., 2018; Winterton et al., 2013). Our research provides to those findings by displaying that this was significantly the case through the lockdown, when demand elevated and having adequate human sources was typically a problem. Although outsourcing of administrative duties can type a part of profitable MoW supply fashions and may relieve funds and human useful resource pressures that LAs face (Winterton et al., 2013), our findings draw consideration to potential pitfalls of outsourced administrations. Notably, there was a priority about outsourced groups missing consciousness of the native context and the precise circumstances of shoppers, which could contribute to MoWs drivers feeling much less supported to hold out their position. Additionally, maintaining the administration and supply of MoWs ‘in-house’ appeared to facilitate a fast and coordinated response in emergency conditions, between all of the providers that could be wanted to make sure a consumer's wellbeing. This discovering needs to be studied additional, but it surely signifies the significance of maintaining the service native. The present research additionally highlighted that MoWs don't obtain adequate publicity in England, hindering consciousness of the service amongst individuals who may want it essentially the most. This helps findings from an earlier US research amongst suppliers of diet programmes for older adults, which recognized that misconceptions and lack of understanding of such programmes are essential challenges to outreach and assembly the wants of people who reside in the neighborhood and are in want of care and assist (Lee et al., 2005c). It's due to this fact essential to boost consciousness of the existence of MoWs and the service's wider preventative worth by way of applicable framing of publicity sources (Papadaki et al., 2021).

It's noteworthy that members within the present research raised issues about how time accessible with every consumer is restricted, and had decreased additional through the pandemic. Having adequate time to work together with shoppers past the meal supply itself is a vital component of the service's social nature and is essential to hold out welfare checks (Winterton et al., 2013). Earlier analysis has demonstrated the challenges that point pressures place on the quantity and high quality of social interplay MoWs shoppers expertise (Frongillo et al., 2010; Timonen & O'Dwyer, 2010). Regardless of the rewarding nature of the job, members reported many difficult conditions they encounter every day that may have a adverse impression on their psychological well being. The necessity to assist MoWs workers’ wellbeing is due to this fact essential in order that they proceed offering this essential service (Papadaki et al., 2021).

4.1 Implications for apply and coverage

Regardless of the small-scale, exploratory nature of this research, our findings might have essential implications for apply and coverage in England, but in addition globally, not less than in settings the place MoWs providers are commissioned, organised and delivered in an analogous method to the LAs taking part within the present mission. The wide selection of advantages exerted by MoWs needs to be acknowledged nationally, recognising MoWs as an emergency response service with an important preventative position in sustaining the wellbeing and independence of housebound older people. Findings additionally spotlight the advantages gained from drivers constructing long-term relationships with shoppers and attending to know their particular person wants and well being issues. This has implications for a way MoW providers are staffed and resourced. The challenges confronted by the service, significantly through the pandemic, point out the necessity for nationwide insurance policies to guard MoWs by elevated assist and funding to LAs, which might permit the continuation of the service nationally. This persevering with governmental assist might assist MoWs allocate applicable human sources so that point spent by drivers with every consumer shouldn't be compromised.

4.2 Strengths and limitations

To our data, that is the primary research to discover the perceptions and experiences of MoWs suppliers in England, as regards to the service's advantages, challenges and experiences through the first nationwide UK lockdown attributable to the pandemic. Contemplating these points within the mild of service suppliers’ views is a vital step in understanding how MoWs needs to be focused, and the way this may translate to insurance policies, to fulfill the wants of people who require meals help (Lee et al., 2005b). As such, our findings contribute to the worldwide proof base reporting on MoWs, whereas offering novel insights concerning the significance of the service in supporting weak people through the present pandemic. Some limitations needs to be famous. Because of the fast nature of this analysis, we recruited workers from two LAs solely, hindering the research's generalisability. However, we recruited members occupying completely different positions and the taking part LAs serve city and semi-rural areas, which helped achieve a variety of insights. Future research ought to ideally recruit members throughout the 4 UK nations (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Eire) to acquire extra consultant views and experiences. As well as, the pattern dimension was comparatively small, and we can not exclude the potential of self-selection bias. Nonetheless, the research occurred whereas COVID-19 restrictions have been in place, which could have made it difficult for workers with competing priorities to take part.


This small-scale research highlights the broader advantages of MoWs and the continued challenges providers face. It additionally highlights distinctive challenges launched by the COVID-19 pandemic, which could hinder the service's efficiency and useful outcomes in a mixed scenario of continuous lockdowns, elevated variety of people needing to self-isolate, and inadequate monetary assist to fulfill the demand. Because of the aforementioned limitations, our findings are exploratory in nature; however, they recommend that well being and social care nationwide insurance policies ought to prioritise the revival, re-introduction and enhancement of MoWs, by supporting LAs to fulfill elevated demand, significantly through the pandemic. These suggestions will assist be sure that essentially the most weak people in the neighborhood proceed to be supported, not solely through the pandemic, however past.


We wish to thank Mr James Dagnall, Ms Sarah Shaw and Ms Elaine Kingsley, who facilitated recruitment within the taking part native authorities, and all members for sharing their experiences with us.


    The authors declare no conflicts of curiosity related to this research.


    AP conceived the research, with enter from PW, KST, AC and MA; KST and EAG contributed to the research design; BA collected the info; BA, AP and PI analysed the info, with enter from all co-authors; AP led the drafting of the manuscript. All authors offered vital enter, reviewed the manuscript for essential content material, take duty for the contents of this text and accredited the ultimate model submitted for publication.


    The research was accredited by the College of Bristol, College for Coverage Research Analysis Ethics Committee (SPSREC/19-20/115).

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