formerly Meals Victoria

More than just a meal

Frequently Asked Questions


The questions below are the most frequently asked over the past couple of years, by members and those enquiring about meals. If you have any further questions please contact: Maree Lyster-Sturman: Mobile 0459 406 433 or email.

It’s More Than Just a Meal
The role of Meals on Wheels Victoria
Best Practice Guidelines
Do Councils or Health Networks receive funding for meals in Victoria?
How do I know if I, or a relative, is eligible for meals?
How do I go about getting Meals On Wheels?
What does a meal consist of?
How many meals can I have? How often are meals delivered?
How much do meals cost?
Is there a choice?
Are the meals delivered hot or cold?
Are any of these meals types better from nutritional point of view?
When are meals delivered?
Who delivers my meals?
What if I cannot be home to receive meals?
What do services mean by duty of care and monitoring?
What if I am not happy with the service or my meals?
Meals on Wheels Victoria - Commenting on Individual Services
Does MOW Victoria conduct surveys and research?

Has there been a drop in meal numbers?
Why has there been a drop in demand, and is there a correlation between price and falling numbers?

It's More Than Just a Meal
Meals on Wheels, along with other Home and Community Care services, aim to assist the elderly and those with disabilities to remain living independently for as long as possible.

People may not be able to cook for themselves for a variety of reasons. Sometimes the service is received for a short time, such as after a hip replacement operation. In most cases the meals are provided on an on‑going basis for people who for various reasons are unable to prepare food for themselves.

This meal is from a nutritional perspective, and is complimented by the monitoring and social welfare component of the service. Volunteers often alert their supervisors if a client’s health is deteriorating. This early intervention and prompt medical attention can often prevent hospitalisation or in some cases, permanent care.

The role of Meals on Wheels Victoria
The Victorian Meals on Wheels (registered as Victorian Meals On Wheels Association Incorporated) is an industry group whose members are primarily made up of meals on wheels service coordinators and managers. We have strong links with AMOWA (Australian Meals on Wheels Association) and have two members from Victoria on the National board.

Victorian Meals on Wheels is dedicated to the continuous improvement, promotion, and sharing of information and ideas for all Meals on Wheels providers throughout metropolitan and regional Victoria. It is our aim to raise the public profile of this valuable service and acknowledge the efforts of the paid and volunteer workforce.

We are also committed to the development and improvement of the service throughout the State. Most of our members work at grass roots level and have an innate understanding of the issues facing services and clients. It’s these issues that we can often address at our meetings and feedback to government.

Best Practice Guidelines
The Victorian HACC (Home and Community Care) Manual and the Aged Care Common Standards outline expectations of service providers within the Aged and Disability Sector. Meals on Wheels Victoria have now developed a set of Best Practice Guidelines to compliment these documents .These guidelines were written by members, for members, and will be officially released in November 2014.

Do Councils or Health Networks receive funding for meals in Victoria?
The Department of Health support services with a $3.23 per meal subsidy.

How do I know if I, or a relative, is eligible for meals?
The Meals on Wheels program is partially funded by the Department of Human Services and Council’s / Health Networks via the Home and Community Care Program. To receive this subsidy all Meals on Wheels services have to assess their recipients. To get a subsidised meal service you must be assessed against eligibility criteria. The Local Council organises an assessment person to come and assess new recipients. In urgent circumstances this can sometimes occur after the service has commenced.

How do I go about getting Meals On Wheels?
Most meals in Victoria are provided by local government. You need to ring the Council that is responsible for the area where you live, or, if you are enquiring for relative, where they live. If the Council do not deliver in your area, the service is most likely to be organised by a Rural Health Network. See our Find Us, which will assist you to find the service in your area. If you encounter any difficulties please contact: Maree Lyster-Sturman: Mobile 0459 406 433 or email.

What does a meal consist of?
Meals are produced according to HACC guidelines.  The majority of providers offer a Soup, Main Course, Dessert and Vitamin C supplement (usually fruit juice).

How many meals can I have? How often are meals delivered?
This is based on an assessment of an individual’s need and support network. Some people purchase meals short term after an Operation, or medium term due to illness, or long term. They can also receive meals two to three days a week, or 5 – 7 days a week depending on their needs.

How much do meals cost?
Meal prices vary, although the average cost for a three course meal is around$6.00 to $10.00 for eligible clients. Currently the recommended fee for clients from the Department of Health $8.70

Is there a choice?
Menu choice ranges from seven to one (meaning none) although most large providers offer at least two choices. Dietary requirements are normally provided for – this may be via a separate menu – please refer to your local provider.

Are the meals delivered hot or cold?
Meals are produced and delivered in a variety of ways-

Hot: Food is cooked in the morning, and sent out hot on the same day.
Chilled: Food is cooked then blast chilled and refrigerated (it is not frozen). It has a self of between 5 and 7 days.
Pasteurized: Food is cooked and then pasteurized. This gives meals produced in this manner an approximately shelf life of four weeks.
Frozen: Some rural areas, due to enormous distances, provide frozen meals. Most cities or large towns, provide the majority of these meals for weekends.

Are any of these meals types better from nutritional point of view?
We unaware of any published research comparing the nutritional value of Hot, Chilled, Pasteurized or Frozen meals.

When are meals delivered?
Meal delivery times vary from service to service. Most provide one three-course lunch-time meal. Most deliver Monday to Friday and some offer weekend delivery as well.

Who delivers my meals?
Staff or volunteers from the individual service provider will deliver meals to your door.

What if I cannot be home to receive meals?
If you cannot be home to receive a meal, we cannot leave without seeing you. Some providers have special arrangements in these cases. If you fail to ring the office and cancel, we have a duty of care to follow up and emergency protocols are put in place.

What do services mean by duty of care and monitoring?
We have a legal responsibility to report to next-of-kin if you do not answer the door. This is often referred to as “duty of care”.

In terms of monitoring the Australian Meals on Wheels Association says, “... monitoring a person’s health and well-being through telephone contact can be effective in some circumstances.  However, the last thing most older people want to do is complain or ask for help. We believe services like ours take the best possible approach to monitoring. Through regular, frequent contact our delivery  personnel develop trust, then listen and observe, almost like a family member would. They then take follow-up action as required, often preventing hospitalisation and even saving lives when a client fails to respond to a scheduled visit.
The term monitoring is the professionalisation of notions such as ‘looking out for’ and ‘caring’ and is often considered by clients and their families as more important than the actual meal.

What if I am not happy with the service or my meals?
Ask your local provider what their feedback or complaints process is. If after engaging in this process you are unsatisfied with the response you can then write a letter to your local Mayor or counsellors or the local MP. If you require an advocate to speak on your behalf you can use family or friends, or an advocacy service such as Office of the Public Advocate, Ph. 1300 309 337, or Senior Rights Victoria Ph. 1300 368 821 or National Aged Care Advocacy Line ph. 1800 700 600.

Meals on Wheels Victoria - Commenting on Individual Services
Meals on Wheels Victoria do comment on individual services. If you after information, or a story about a service, you must contact directly.

Does MOW Victoria conduct surveys and research?
It is up to each individual service to conduct survey’s to determine if their clients are satisfied with the service, and gather suggestions for improvement.

The Meals on Wheels Victoria Survey 2008 was the most comprehensive survey of members / providers ever done in Australia. Since then we’ve complied an update in 2011 (not published), and conducted various surveys / research for both for Meals on Wheels Victoria and AMOWA (Australian Meals on Wheels Association). Our most recent survey concerned price and meal numbers.

Has there been a drop in meal numbers?
There has been a drop in meal numbers of about 15% over 5 years. However it should be pointed out, that some services numbers have remained the same, some have risen, some have dropped slightly, and some dramatically.

Why has there been a drop in demand, and is there a correlation between price and falling numbers?
Earlier this year all members were surveyed and asked to provide their statistics for meals numbers and fees charged to clients for the previous five financial years. The concern was that fee increases had forced many clients off services. This was not found to be the case (accept in isolated instances).

The most worrying data concerned the dramatic drop in meal numbers in some services. However, no matter which the way the final results were crunched, no over-all pattern emerged. An independent consultant indicated the results were highly unusual on account of the fact that there were no over-all trends (apart from a small drop in meal numbers over-all). This pointed to “a lack of consistency in terms of standards”. DoH have been briefed on the results but are reluctant to provide funds for more research in the current climate (Fed / State funding changes). However, the committee thinks the survey results raise questions that need answering. In particular they would like to see a more targeted research project that examines why numbers have fallen so dramatically in some areas, and not in others.

Discussions are currently underway about how best to proceed, with possible partnerships with a university and or students. Any further examination would have to focus on select number of services and factor in-

  • Demographics
  • Referral and Assessment processes
  • Active Service Model (and the way it is being interpreted)
  • Meal Supplier, including an increase or decrease of suppliers / options
  • Quality and variety/options of Meal choices
  • Service delivery including flexibility of delivery options
  • Price / Fees
  • Meal preference, hot, cook chill or frozen