Supporting our clients through Brexit

Hertfordshire Independent Living Service (HILS) is committed to ensuring that our older and vulnerable clients receive excellent and caring services. We are mindful that as a provider of food and wellbeing services to some of the most vulnerable people living in the community, any disruption to services must be minimised. We have been proactive in preparing for the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union and have been working closely with our key partners and suppliers to ensure continuity of service.

Stock and supplies

We purchase the majority of our food stocks from apetito and Hertfordshire Catering Limited, and have been liaising with both regarding their contingency plans. apetito has committed substantial funds and resources in risk mitigation, this includes stockpiling six to eight weeks-worth of materials. Hertfordshire Catering Limited’s main supplier, Bidfood, believes that any challenges with availability of supply are likely to be intermittent, resulting in limited choice rather than food shortages. Bidfood currently holds approximately three to four weeks’ of stock across their range depending on the specific level of risk identified on a product by product basis. They are convinced that this will provide between six weeks’ and three months’ cover of key products at risk and key lead alternatives.

At HILS, we have also increased our food stocks and have prioritised specialist foods (such as texture-modified meals) to ensure we can continue to cater to our clients with specific dietary needs. However, we may need to change meals or suppliers if our partners experience difficulties delivering their products to us. Where we need to substitute meals, we will always alert clients and select meals that meet their dietary preferences and needs. Our Nutrition Team will be available to help and advise clients concerned about food substitutions.

Delays and disruption

We have also been working with Hertfordshire County Council on our contingency planning and are one of a number of essential services that will be prioritised in case of fuel shortages. However, we may be required to reduce the number of cars we send out – for example, if our Community Team members find it difficult to get to work – which could result in delays to meal deliveries, or pop-in visits. We will always endeavour to alert our clients of potential delays as soon as possible, and all clients who are able to safely heat up their meal have also been provided with an emergency frozen meal.

Our non-meals services

In addition to our meals, HILS offers a variety of other health, wellbeing, and community support services. While we are committed to minimising disruption to these services, they do not qualify for priority fuel status so may be more affected by fuel shortages. Clients receiving non-meals services may experience disruption such as cancellations, and less frequent visits or activity sessions. Clients currently on the waiting list to receive any of these services may experience a delay in their service starting.

Prices

Our meals on wheels service is subsidised by the County Council and prices negotiated annually. We do not anticipate any change to this schedule, or an extraordinary price increase.

Our Tea and Breakfast Packs, Keysafe Installations, Jubilee Centre room bookings and events, and our Pop-In services are chargeable and funded solely through trade. There are no plans to increase prices. However, if charges do change we would endeavour to inform all clients at least a month in advance.

Our Active Ageing, Emergency Food and Grocery Packs, Home from Hospital Bags, Nutrition and Wellbeing Service, Advocacy, and Hertswise services, are provided free of charge to our clients. This is not expected to change.

Communicating with clients

We are aware that for many of our clients this may be a particularly worrying time and we will always strive to provide them with relevant information and reassurance. We have prepared a communique to all our clients making them aware of potential disruptions and the steps we have taken to ensure continuity of service. All our Support Teams will be briefed and provided with scripts to help them answer client questions and to signpost to other services them if needed.

We are continuing to monitor the situation closely and adjust our plans accordingly. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at senior.team@hertsindependentliving.org .