The average ‘true’ cost of care for each aged care resident is $115.65 per day, according to accounting group Bentleys.

The figure is based on data from the Bentleys’ 2009 Aged Care Survey which took in more than 340 facilities around the country.

It includes care and nursing expenses, as well as catering, cleaning and laundry costs.

However Bentleys Director, Heath Shonhan said the actual cost of care varies significantly, depending on a range of factors such as a facility’s location and the mission objectives of the approved provider.

“There is no one definition of the ‘true’ cost of care,” he said. “There has been some discussion around this issue but a more concentrated discussion is always going to assist.

“What we are trying to do is assist with the thought leadership around this component of aged care.

“There is no one right answer for a formula for pricing but this is something the industry needs to be discussing.”

Mr Shonhan said he hoped the information would encourage providers to think about ways of improving their current practices.

“If, for example, I am a rural provider what do I need to think about to ensure my sustainability?” he said.

Mr Shonhan added that the concept of a ‘true’ cost of care would become less important if the government scaled back its subsidisation of aged care consumers.

“In the move toward a user pay system a number of questions need to be determined: How much should the government pay for? And how does that transition occur?”

“The obvious stakeholders that need to discuss these issues are the government, the banks and aged care providers.”

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