Excerpt from 'THE CLOCK OF TIME' by Gertrude Ruston. (pp 153-154)
"Meals on Wheels
During the time I was President of the Soroptimist Club of Perth, one of our members, who was the Superintendent of the Silver Chain District Nursing Association, drew attention to the very real need for some home help to be provided as an addition to the nursing aid given by her service. She asked if the Soroptimist Club of Perth would be prepared to establish some form or home help, as the Silver Chain nurses did not undertake cleaning, washing or cooking and people living alone had a great need of some help.
Members were entirely sympathetic but we were all busy women and, as a new club, it was felt such an undertaking was beyond us. After discussion I asked if the club would allow me to put the request to the Women's Service Guilds, of which I was State Secretary, and I was requested to take that action.
At the next meeting of the Guilds' State Executive the matter was discussed and, although this was not the Guilds' work, it was agreed that a pilot scheme should be conducted by me from the office, with the assistance of Mrs Florence Hummerston and Mrs Gladys Christie." (I got to know Mrs Christie well in later years and have in my possession a lovely small china bowl and china spoon she gave me back in the 1960s).
"We approached Mr Frank Boan for the use of an office on the second floor of Boans Perth Building, and he was kind enough to grant it together with the use of essential furniture. We obtained publicity and people were asked to offer their services or, if in need of help. to seek same at the office in Boans which was manned by Mrs Christie.
After a short trial period it was obvious that there was a definite need for a properly established home help service, and the government was asked for its assistance. The Guilds then handed the project over to Mrs Hummerston, one of the Perth Guild members, and she was assisted by the government in setting up what is known as the League of Home Help.
This has proved a very worthwhile service for the sick and aged, but was not sufficient for the needs of Silver Chain, which eventually started its own Home Help Service when Sister K. Barnes was Superintendent of the Nursing Service.
South Australia started an organisation known as Meals on Wheels, which was due to the efforts of a severely crippled woman in that State, The League of Home Help and Silver Chain had both found there was a definite need for such a service in W.A., and after obtaining all the information possible from South Australia, Mrs Hummerston started Meals on Wheels in association with the League of Home Help.
Many of our local Councils now have very helpful aid for the sick and aged. Our own Cockburn Council has what is known as "Cockburn Care" and once you have proved yourself eligible for help you can have house cleaning, window cleaning, gutter cleaning, gardening and odd jobs done and some people are taken to do their weekly shopping or even taken to medical appointments. It is not expensive as it is government subsidised so well within the means of most pensioners. We have a regular lady who comes in one hour a fortnight to clean and I am always amazed at how much she gets done in that time, plus she is a very delightful English lass who on Tuesday popped in unexpectedly to introduce us to her brother who is here on a visit from England. Every five weeks an Indian gentleman comes in and does our lawns either with a mower or whipper-snipper. Looking outside today I realised it's time I rang them and booked someone to clean our windows too!