New compulsory reporting on food and nutrition in residential aged care has revealed the amount providers spend each day, per person, has increased significantly.
Since 1 July 2021, the Morrison Government has provided an additional $10 per day per resident to eligible residential aged care providers.
By the end of December 2021, approximately $350 million was distributed to residential aged care providers to improve the delivery of care and services including food and nutrition.
To continue to receive this 2021 Basic Daily Fee supplement, providers are required to report to the Department of Health every three months on food and nutrition expenditure, and the quality of daily living services provided to residents.
Data collected through a new quarterly reporting system shows that the average spend on food and nutrition for residents has risen considerably since the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety cited $6 per day as found in a 2017 study.
From July to December 2021, the average spend per person per day in residential care was more than $12.
Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Richard Colbeck, said the supplement should be used by providers to improve health and nutrition outcomes.
“Aged care residents deserve food that is both nutritious and appetising,” Minister Colbeck said.
“While providing appropriate food for some residents can be challenging, it is a fundamental responsibility of aged care providers and a right of all aged care residents.”
Of all 2600 residential care services which self-reported the data through My Aged Care the average daily spend was approximately $13.94 in Q1 and $14.27 in Q2.
Among the 75 per cent of services that reported expenditure on food and ingredients as on-site only, the average expenditure was $12.25 in Q1 and $12.44 in Q2.
Minister Colbeck said less than two per cent of providers reported spending under $6 per resident, per day despite the additional funding.
He said the Department of Health will refer any provider spending less than $10 per resident per day, to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission to consider regulatory action.
“Providers have a responsibility to ensure the health and wellbeing of residents – but also that this funding is being used appropriately,” Minister Colbeck said.
“The Basic Daily Fee supplement was provided to residential aged care services to improve the delivery of care and services to senior Australians, with a focus on food and nutrition – that is what residents and their families expect.
“A spend less than $10 by any provider is no longer a satisfactory outcome. Residents deserve more.”
Minster Colbeck said the Basic Daily Fee supplement is just one of several actions the Government is taking on food, and both Government and consumers will be expecting sector leadership to drive real change in response.
Additional actions being taken by the Government to improve food and nutritional outcomes include:
- Asking 20 per cent of senior Australians in residential aged care whether they like the food, as part of consumer experience interviews, and publishing the service level results on star ratings later in 2022;
- Requiring residential aged care providers to collect and report on the new Quality Indicators, including unplanned weight loss, and publishing the service level results on star ratings later from December 2022; and
- The urgent review of the Aged Care Quality Standards, which includes a focus on food and nutrition.
Minister Colbeck said the Australian Government remains committed to ensuring senior Australians not only receive high quality and safe care, but have the best possible quality of life.
“While there is no doubt the pandemic has created extra difficulties for all aged care services, these issues are being worked through in collaboration with the sector,” Minister Colbeck said.
The quarterly self-reporting on food and nutrition, including oral health and meal preparation, allows the Government to work more closely with the sector to improve food practices.
The reports were developed in consultation with dietitians, nutrition experts and the aged care sector.
Further information about the food and nutrition reporting can be found here.