Statement on Nutrition Study in Queensland Nursing Homes
Minister for Ageing, Mrs Justine Elliot today described independent research by Queensland University of Technology published in the Australasian Journal of Ageing on the nutrition of nursing home residents as “disturbing”.
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Printable version of Statement on Nutrition Study in Queensland Nursing Homes (PDF 26 KB)
30 October 2008
Minister for Ageing, Mrs Justine Elliot today described independent research by Queensland University of Technology published in the Australasian Journal of Ageing on the nutrition of nursing home residents as "disturbing".
The Queensland research found:
- Nutritional assessment of more than 350 high-care residents in eight aged care facilities in Queensland found that 43 per cent were moderately malnourished and 6.5 per cent were severely malnourished.
- The research team also found that just 18 per cent of the malnourished residents had been seen by a dietician and only 29 per cent were receiving supplements.
Mrs Elliot said: "Nursing home operators have a legal and moral obligation to provide proper care for nursing home residents.
"There are guidelines on food, nutrition, hydration and how to encourage residents to eat and drink.
"For example, facilities should monitor fluid intake to identify any residents drinking less than 1.5 litres a day, to identify any residents at risk of developing dehydration.
"The Australian Government is undertaking a record 7,000 visits by the Aged Care Standards and Accreditation Agency to the nation’s nursing homes to ensure the quality of care, including nutrition and hydration."
Anyone with concerns about the hydration and nutrition care of family and friends in nursing homes should immediately contact the Department of Health and Ageing’s Complaints Investigation Scheme - 1 800-550-552.
Adequate nutrition and hydration, including adequate protein intake is essential to enable older people to heal wounds and have sufficient energy to move around to avoid developing pressure sores.
Nursing homes need to monitor food intake as many older people, particularly with chronic health problems, lose their desire to eat, or fail to register when they are hungry or thirsty must fluid available, and to offer small meals.
They are also required to check resident’s weight to ensure that any weight loss is monitored and to ensure that additional nourishment in the form of small, high protein/calorie food is offered.
In terms of supplements, it is accepted practice for additional foods in the form of high protein/high calorie drinks to be offered to residents between meals.
In addition, assistance with eating is an important care task for staff of aged care homes - it requires an unhurried approach with the carers sitting at the same level as the resident. In this way, a resident is observed for any possible indication of swallowing difficulty and /or choking.
For more information, contact Mrs Elliot's office on (02) 6277 7280
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