If you are struggling to go grocery shopping or make meals, there are services that can help
You may be eligible to receive assistance through Government funded services
There are many different options you can choose from to assist with your meals and shopping
If you are facing barriers that prevent you from getting to the shops, struggling to carry shopping bags, or having difficulty preparing and cooking your own meals there is assistance available to help with these daily tasks.
Support programs such as the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP), a Government-funded Home Care Package (HCP), or help from private providers can ensure you are able to access essential resources.
What assistance can I receive?
Meal and shopping services could provide:
Grocery shopping, food preparation and/or cooking
Transport to and from the shops
Food subscription services
Diet, nutrition, food storage and food safety
Special dietary requirements for health, religious, cultural and other reasons
Shopping for items like clothes and gifts, etc
Even some 'retail therapy' can be accommodated through these assistive services. For example, a support worker can be with you when you visit a department store to shop for clothing or any gifts you need. Or they can assist you at the post office when you are paying your bills.
Having an extra helping hand around can give you added peace of mind when you are out in the community, and you can stress less if you have limited mobility or if you are unable to drive.
For some older people, shopping by themselves can be a nerve-wracking or stressful experience, which is where a support worker can provide emotional support by accompanying you to these places to do chores.
So what type of services are out there?
It all depends on the level of assistance you require, talk to your service provider about what sort of extra help you need while out in the community.
Less intensive services include helping get the groceries to your door or making sure it is stored properly, whereas higher levels of assistance would include meal preparation, cooking and feeding.
Talk to your doctor or an Aged Care Assessment Team/Service (ACAT/S) about what best fits your current needs.
Meal services and supports that are available include:
Click and collect
Grocery shopping has been made simpler, as it is just a click away with click and collect services. You can get your groceries packed by a personal shopper and pick it up when it is ready for collection. This service is usually free with the possibility of same day collection from a supermarket location of your choice if you order online before a certain time. Depending on your location, you may be able to select to drive through and pick up or deliver to your car option. Some supermarkets also allow you to leave the personal shopper notes, such as how ripe you would like your fruit and vegetables to be.
Grocery delivery services
Most supermarkets provide home delivery for your groceries, which can be helpful if you have an issue with transport or if it is more convenient to have your groceries delivered to your door. Ordering online is super easy, you just need to select what items you want, pick a delivery time slot, choose a payment option (online or in person), and wait for it to arrive! The delivery fee can differ depending on the time of day it is delivered, and some supermarkets have free delivery if you spend over a certain amount on your groceries.
Food subscription services
Another popular alternative to grocery shopping is food subscription services. If you enjoy cooking but don't like the stress of thinking what you should make for the week, then this will be the perfect option for you! Fresh ingredients are delivered straight to your door with easy-to-follow recipes which you can cook at home. Additionally, there is minimal food waste due to careful portion control for each recipe you have been delivered.
Prepared meal deliveries
Pre-made food services are very popular in Australia and can generally be partially funded by home care services you receive through the Government if you are eligible or require that type of assistance. Private home care providers can also provide similar assistance on a fee-for-service basis. These can be good if you are not good with cooking, don't enjoy cooking or if you have difficulty making food yourself. Meals are made with love and can be altered depending on your cultural or dietary requirements.
Some pre-made food services can also have an important social component involved in the service. For example, Meals on Wheels have a large cohort of volunteers who are happy to have a chat and build relationships with their regular customers. It can be a really important social interaction component for some people that use the services.
Additionally, the volunteers can also assist in detecting if a person is not doing well, whether that be visible signs of discomfort or deterioration or if the customer mentions they are not doing too well. Other areas you can look at for help include your local Council, they may undertake meal preparation at local community centres that you can pick up or have delivered. Contact your Council to see if they provide this service.
Cooking programs and resources
Sometimes it can be hard to cook for one person, especially if you are used to cooking for a whole household. Taking a cooking program or utilising cooking resources can be an easy way to adapt and adjust how you cook so it meets the needs of just one to two people.
There are cooking programs specifically designed for older Australians to improve their quality of life through basic cooking lessons, nutrition education and social engagement. For example, one program called 'Cooking for one or two' provides classes on how to make healthy meals for a small number of people.
Your local Council or surrounding community may also provide cooking programs or lessons as well. The Department of Health is also trying to assist older people with their health and food through their Eat for Health website, which provides information and recipes that are nutritious and balanced. The website also has recipes that suit different appetites and budgets while still meeting nutrition goals.
Another resource to access is Nutrition Australia, an online resource that is dedicated to trusted nutrition advice. You can access free nutrition resources to help you keep healthy as you age, including advice around bone health, arthritis, constipation, and more. It also hosts recipes that can be downloaded and printed.
No matter what level of help you need, there is a range of services to assist you in making convenient, healthy food choices.
What is your go-to meal to cook at home? Tell us in the comments below.