What does it cost to feed aged care residents in Australia?


Cherie HUGO, Elisabeth ISENRING, David SINCLAIR and Ekta AGARWAL


Abstract:

Aim: Funding cuts to the aged care industry impact catering budgets and aged care staffing levels, which may in turn affect the nutritional status of aged care residents. This paper reports average food expenditure and trends in Australian residential aged care facilities (RACFs).

Methods:This is a retrospective study collecting RACFs’ economic outlay data through a quarterly online survey conducted over the 2015 and 2016financial years.

Results:Data were compiled from 817 RACFs, representing 64 256 residential beds and 23 million bed-days Australia-wide. The average total spend in Australian Dollars (AUD) on catering consumables (including cutlery/crockery, supplements, paper goods) was $8.00 per resident per day (prpd) and $6.08 prpd when looking at the raw food and ingredients budget alone. Additional data from over half the RACFs (n = 456, 56%) indicate a 5% decrease in food cost ($0.31 prpd) in the last year, particularly in fresh produce, with a simultaneous 128% ($0.50 prpd) increase in cost for supplements and food replacements. Current figures are comparatively less than aged care food budgets internationally (US, UK and Canada), less than community-dwelling older adults ($17.25 prpd) and 136% less than Australian corrective services ($8.25 prpd).

Conclusions:The current spend on food in RACFs has decreased compared with previous years, reflecting an increasing reliance on supplements, and is significantly less than current community food spend.

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© 2017 The Authors. Nutrition & Dietetics published by John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd on behalf of Dietitians Association of Australia

Published by Residential Forum

The Residential Forum is to promote the achievement of high standards of care and support for children and adults living in residential care and nursing homes, supported housing, residential schools and colleges, hospices and hostels. It contributes to improving the quality of service to the public. Members of the Forum are people of standing and experience drawn from the public, private and voluntary sectors, as well as some who can speak for service users and carers.

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