Positive food and nutrition report, but information self-reported

Expenditure on food in residential care facilities has increased, a new report has shown.

Expenditure on food in residential aged care facilities has increased, a new government report has shown.  

Released by the Department of Health and Aged Care, the Food and Nutrition Report 2021-2022 shows providers spending an average of $14.46 per resident per day on food across the financial year.

Tom Symondson

Responding to the findings, Aged & Community Care Providers Association CEO Tom Symondson said: “Good quality food and nutrition are vital to the health and wellbeing of older Australians. It is also essential for their daily enjoyment of life, as noted by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.”

He added: “The importance of food quality in aged care has been further recognised with the introduction of a dedicated food and nutrition standard as part of the proposed new Aged Care Quality Indicators for aged care which are currently being reviewed with sector consultation.”

Outcomes and observations

The Food and Nutrition Report shows trend and outcomes analysis from the 2021 Basic Daily Fee Supplement of $10 a day paid to aged care providers in the 2021-22 financial year.

As of 30 June 2022:

  • 99 per cent of providers had signed up for the BDF supplement, and those providers received a total of almost $700 million
  • more than 2,700 individual services received the additional $10 per person a day.

To receive the BDF supplement – which was introduced in August 2021 – providers are required to undertake food and nutrition reporting each quarter.

Key observations include:

  • an average of $14.46 spent on food per resident per day
  • the average spend per resident per day for food increased each quarter from $13.94 in Q1 to $15 in Q4.
Source: Department of Health and Aged Care

“Too often food in aged care gets a bad rap – unfairly so,” said Mr Symondson. “This second Food and Nutrition Report shows that a majority of residential aged care providers are doing the right thing by providing nutritious food for residents.”

The 17-page report also details some of the creative and innovative ways aged care providers are improving food for residents by implementing ideas such as seasonal kitchen gardens, taste-testing events and resident food committees.

The 1 per cent

The report shows 1 per cent of aged care facilities spent less than $6 per resident per day on food and ingredients in the six months to June 2022.

Although down from 2 per cent reported in the first six months to December 2021, advanced accredited practicing dietician and director of Nutrition Professionals Australia Julie Dundon told Australian Ageing Agenda: “It’s still very disappointing that 1 per cent of nursing homes are still spending less than $6 a day, much less than the $10 a day they’re receiving for their food and nutrition.”

Providers with a food spend of less than $10 a day are referred to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.

Julie Dundon

Ms Dundon also said she was doubtful of the veracity of the reporting. “These figures are still self-reported. I think there are some inaccuracies in what is being reported.”

She told AAA, anecdotal evidence has shown food service staff haven’t had direct input into the reporting. “It’s often been left to the finance department or accountant who don’t have a good understanding of food and food systems.”

Ms Dundon added that, whilst the reports are valuable and valued, “I am not sure how much we should be relying on that information at this point in time – I think we’ve a long way to go.”

Comment on the story below. Follow Australian Ageing Agenda on FacebookX (Twitter) and LinkedIn, sign up to our twice-weekly newsletter and subscribe to AAA magazine for the complete aged care picture.  

Tags: ACCPA, basic daily fee, Food and Nutrition report, Tom Symondson,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *