• community care;
  • meals on wheels;
  • ageing;
  • volunteers;
  • Australia;
  • systematic literature review

Winterton R, Warburton J, Oppenheimer M. The future for Meals on Wheels? Reviewing innovative approaches to meal provision for ageing populations

The global phenomenon of population ageing is impacting on how community care is delivered, and a key component of health and social care services for the frail elderly is Meals on Wheels (MOW), a service that has traditionally encompassed delivering meals to older people in their homes. However, aspects of this conceptualisation of MOW are being redefined in order to address challenges posed by tightening global financial contexts, a reliance on volunteers and increasing social isolation among ageing populations. Through a review of the literature and websites from selected countries (UK, USA, Canada, Australia), this article explores and critically evaluates models of MOW delivery addressing these challenges. Findings suggest that MOW services are utilising a marketised approach, moving outside of the home and incorporating diverse volunteer roles. These findings demonstrate how services such as MOW can develop sustainable approaches to service delivery in a contemporary context.

Key Practitioner Message:A review of innovative MOW highlights service models of broader applicability;Varied delivery models and more diverse volunteer roles appeal to new sources of volunteers;Research into the development of sustainable models with positive client social outcomes is now required.