Navigating the Challenges of Aged Care Nutrition

Published on November 20, 2023
Navigating the Challenges of Aged Care Nutrition

For over two decades, the Australian aged care sector has encountered numerous challenges, particularly in the realm of food and nutrition. 

The recent Royal Commission in 2021 brought to light significant concerns, including the alarming rate of malnutrition, the necessity for increased and quality food shortages, and the importance of human-centred approaches to senior care. 

As the elderly population grows, the demand for more food fortification strategies will rise with it. In this blog, we examine the nutrition challenges facing the aged care industry, and some possible solutions to deliver essential nutrition support. 


Misunderstanding Seniors' nutrition needs

Advocates fighting for improvements in the aged care industry have voiced concerns about the existing limited knowledge of the nutrition needs of aged care residents. 

For those pushing for change, the issue arguably stems from a disconnect between education and training regarding senior nutrition, and the often complex needs of residents entering aged care. 

This issue is a multifaceted one, originating from a misunderstanding of the differing nutrition needs seniors have from the younger general public, and a lack of adequate staff training at an individual facility level. 

As a result, malnutrition is rife in aged care facilities around Australia. Some reports suggest that up to 50% of residents may be malnourished or at risk, although recent data on malnutrition rates in this setting are scarce. 


Australian Government. Final Report: Care, Dignity and Respect; Australian Government: Canberra, Australia, 2021.

Gaskill, D.; Black, L.J.; Isenring, E.A.; Hassall, S.; Sanders, F.; Bauer, J.D. Malnutrition prevalence and nutrition issues in residential aged care facilities. Australas. J. Ageing 2008, 27, 189–194.

Addressing these challenges will take a concerted effort from multiple directions. It will require improvements in education and training, a recommendation that both tertiary and private education institutions are taking on. At an individual facility level, the change needs to come from aged care management making concerted efforts to improve the quality of food being served to seniors. These food choices need to be small and easily consumable to match senior reduced appetite and potential eating limitations, while also being rich in protein, energy, and nutrients. 


Food fortification to address malnutrition

The challenges of addressing the issue of malnutrition cannot be solved by one individual meal supplement or provider alone. 

Instead, it will take a holistic nutrition approach that incorporates nutrition support strategies and the suppliers passionate about delivering them. 

This is where food fortification comes in. Food fortification is a food-first nutrition support strategy that involves adding nutrient-dense ingredients such as cream, milk powder, or supplement powder to food and beverages, without increasing the portion size. 

While there are no best practice guidelines for implementing food fortification in aged care facilities, the versatility of the strategy does require a variety of ingredients from numerous foods and beverages to hit nutrition markers for the elderly. 

This is where value-aligned food services can play a vital role in individual aged care facilities.


Senior nutrition support through mission-aligned food services

Food services play a critical role in the nutritional care of residents. As the latest Royal Commission results revealed, there is a pressing need for sustainable strategies that aged care facilities can adopt with relative ease.

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Elevate aged care nutrition

Solving the challenge of providing adequate nutrition in the Australian aged care sector requires a multifaceted approach. 

Sustainable food fortification strategies promise to help tackle the problem of malnutrition, but they need the right food services partners to deliver them consistently and reliably to facilities. 

For aged facilities focused on the health and wellbeing of their residents, engaging a food services expert in the aged care sector is key to long-term success. 

The team at Procurement Australia has over 15 years of experience delivering food service solutions in the aged care sector. Contact us today to learn how our Food Service Solution can dramatically improve the nutrition outcomes for the seniors under your care.


Byles, J.; Perry, L.; Parkinson, L.; Bellchambers, H.; Moxey, A.; Howie, A.; Murphy, N.; Galliene, L.; Courtney, G.; Robinson, I.; et al. Encouraging Best Practice Nutrition and Hydration in Residential Aged Care; Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing: Canberra, Australia, 2009.

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