By Catherine Hopkins
COLLEEN Grady of Miller doesn't care for cooking as it literally leaves her breathless. Ms Grady suffers from asthma, emphysema and an allergy to mould. "The stove causes a problem because it heats up the kitchen and affects my breathing," she said. "I go to hospital about four to six times a year: when I go home, I am not able to cook."
She is partly housebound and has trouble carrying shopping so the solution was Tender Loving Cuisine, which has been supplying her with pre-cooked, frozen meals for the past 12 months.
Tender Loving Cuisine relies on drivers, such as shift worker Greg Simpson of Liverpool, who drives about 240 kilometres in his run that stretches from Greenacre to Parramatta and Casula. Ms Grady and the Maple Grove Retirement Villages at Casula are two stops on his 20-stop run.
Jack Barker, who founded the service, said most complaints to the Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care are from nursing homes that have patients admitted who are malnourished from not eating properly. "The ageing population is significant and people are not always up to doing the shopping and preparation," Mr. Barker said. He said 65 per cent of the energy expended in eating is just enough to keep the body functioning, and malnourishment is one reason elderly people get run down and have to enter a nursing home.
Tender Loving Cuisine has a factory at Marrickville where two chefs create about 3800 meals a week and 11 couriers deliver to people across Sydney, the Blue Mountains, the Central Coast and Newcastle. Mr. Barker began the service at Royal North Shore Hospital, when a friend was recovering from a serious car accident and brain injury.
"While he was needing help and attention, I arranged the meals for him". "Royal North Shore Hospital said we should offer the service to all discharged patients". But the going was harder than expected. "It took five years of total commitment and considerable losses in developing the organisation, and another two years to pay off the debt."
Liverpool Hospital is one of several hospitals that refer outpatients to the service. Social workers and dietitians see such a meal service as a very important aspect of convalescence.
Copyright, Liverpool Leader Newspaper