Care dinners: ‘Would you fork out £4.50 for this meal?’

Disabled residents say charge for ‘disgusting’ food is hard to digest

Tuesday, 7th December 2021 — By Tom Foot


One of the meals on offer at Charlie Ratchford Court

A DISABLED resident in a flagship “extra care” housing block says the council is breaching its contract to provide them with healthy food.

A “daily freshly-cooked meal” is supposed to be provided at Charlie Ratchford Court in Crogsland Road, Chalk Farm, for a compulsory charge of £4.50, according to tenancy agreements.

But since September packages of foam-boxed “ready meals” have been left at the doors of residents to reheat in microwaves.

The council stressed meals were provided daily and had technically at one point been freshly cooked off-site in Kilburn.

One resident, who did not want to be named, said she felt misled as she had expected a café-style lunch, adding: “I can’t afford to pay this and buy my own food as well.

“Would you pay £4.50 a day for this? I can’t eat what they are giving me, it’s disgusting. “There is also supposed to be a café here but it isn’t open. It feels like they moved us in too quickly.”

The resident said the £4.50 would be better spent on healthy cauliflower and cabbages from Camden Town M&S.

But residents have been told “if you do not pay, it may mean you would not be able to continue living at Charlie Ratchford Court”.

Claire Glasman, from disability group WinVisible, said: “Camden hasn’t met its side of the bargain. The residents were promised they would get a freshly cooked meal every day under the contract.

“The residents are being charged £4.50 per meal in a separate charge, which is a lot of money and more than you would pay for this quality of ready meal in the supermarket.

“This is more of a £3 meal. This is another example of disabled people being charged extortionate amounts in Camden.”

Charlie Ratchford Court is a new care scheme aiming to help people as independently as possible.

There are 38 flats with a range of accessible and adaptable facilities including a “café-style space”, courtyard gardens and activities.

There are 19 flats occupied with a number of people already lined up to move in early in the new year when a new café with a kitchen is expected to be open.

The building was built and paid for through the council’s Community Investment Programme. Camden’s health and care chief Cllr Pat Callaghan said: “Charlie Ratchford Court provides a unique, innovative and intergenerational service that will help residents to live independently and enjoy the connections, services and activities that are available to them in the community.

“Meals at the Charlie Ratchford Court are currently freshly cooked during the week in the council’s kitchens at Kingsgate Day Service. On weekends they are cooked in advance, frozen and delivered to be defrosted and reheated.

“All our kitchen staff are fully trained and are provided with relevant information on nutritional and dietary requirements for all the residents.

“Unfortunately, the opening of the community café – which will enable meals to be prepared onsite – has been delayed due to the pandemic. “We anticipate that this will be up and running in the very near future, initially concentrating on catering of meals for residents.”

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