Almost a third of aged care facilities have been referred to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission for spending less than $10 a day per resident on food, a spokesman for Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services Richard Colbeck told Australian Ageing Agenda.

“In the reporting period July to September 2021 there were 795 residential aged care services reporting under $10 for food expenditure and 703 residential aged care services in October to December 2021,” the spokesman said.

“Those services reporting an expenditure of under $10 per day have been referred to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission for consideration and relevant regulatory action,” the spokesman told AAA.

Exactly what “relevant regulatory action” will be taken remains unclear.

According to the government’s Food and Nutrition Report, during the last six months of 2021, 67 per cent of aged care services reported an average daily spend on food and ingredients of more than $10 per day per resident. Meanwhile, over the same period, 33 per cent of aged care facilities spent below $10 a day on food and ingredients.

Since 1 July 2021, the Federal Government has provided aged care facilities an additional $10 per day per resident to help providers pay for daily living services in return for reporting related to these services. There has been a 99 per cent take-up rate of the supplement among those eligible. In total, by the end of 2021, aged care services received $350 million through the Basic Daily Fee supplement.

To receive the BDF, providers must submit quarterly reports to the Department of Health in response to nine questions, four of which are mandatory. There is a heavy focus on food nutrition and food-related spending. Based on the compulsory reporting, the amount aged care services spend each day, per person, on food has increased over the two quarters.

Drawing on the last six months of self-reported data from more than 2,600 residential aged care facilities, results show that:

  • 75 per cent of residential services reported on-site only spending on food and ingredients with a daily average $12.25 per resident in July to September 2021 and $12.44 in October to December 2021
  • for all services, the average daily spend on food was around $13.94 in the first quarter and up to $14.27 in the second – some of this data includes labour costs which couldn’t be separated
  • 22 per cent of residential services reported their food expenditure as partly prepared on site, partly pre-prepared and bought-in (contract based) – these services reported an average daily spend of $18.63 in the first reporting period, and $19.02 in the second reporting period (these numbers are higher because they include labour costs)
  • 2-3 per cent of residential services reported their food spend as pre-prepared and bought-in (contract based) only. The average daily spend was $25.15 in the first reporting period, and $25.61 in the second reporting period – these numbers also include labour costs.

The average daily spend is comparable to StewartBrown’s benchmarking report for the September 21 quarter report, which found providers spent $12.92 on physical ingredients.

The BDF suppplement reporting also highlighted various practices deployed by facilities to improve the dining experience for residents. These include:

  • immersive experiences in gardening, cooking, and pop-up markets
  • empowering consumer choice through technology
  • developing specific strategies to support senior Australians with dementia.

According to a Department of Health statement – aside from the BDF supplement – additional actions to improve food and nutritional outcomes in residential aged care facilities include:

  • asking 20 per cent of aged care reisden whether they like the food, as part of consumer experience interviews, and publishing the service level results on star ratings later in 2022
  • requiring aged care providers to collect and report on the quality indicators, including unplanned weight loss, and publishing the service level results on star ratings later from December 2022
  • conducting an urgent review of the Aged Care Quality Standards, which includes a focus on food and nutrition.
Richard Colbeck

“Aged care residents deserve food that is both nutritious and appetising,” Mr 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.”

Further information about the food and nutrition reporting can be found here.

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1 Comment

  1. I find it interesting that the federal government cut $40 per resident per day from funding in 2015 causing the virtual collapse of the residential sector. After being pressured into doing something they put up a token $10 increase. The government has recently deemed that $216.80 is the base rate required to provide the minimum care requirements which is about $30 more per resident per day than most homes are receiving.
    The government has told everyone that with the advent of AN ACC (delayed to October) all residents require $216.80 to receive quality care but that is not the reality.
    A normal facility will receive only 49% of the $216.80 or $106 as the base. There will be attached to this a resident need classification chart rating needs from 1-13. Ironically a resident needs to reach classification 9 to reach the $216.80 payment that the government tells us is the minimum cost of care per day.
    How can the government make the sector wait another six months having recognised the real cost and additionally only have residents rated above 9 equal that rate. Don’t the residents under category 9 matter, what happened to the minimum base rate of care.
    We can’t trust the liberals to do the right thing in the future when they have so much damage in the past and lied to us all repeatedly.

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