An extra $10 a day could be given to feed and care for every aged care resident in Australia within months, after the royal commission highlighted “staggering” rates of malnutrition and unplanned weight loss in Australian nursing homes, The Age reports.
It’s been estimated that little more than $6 a day is budgeted for meals for each aged care resident on average.
In the final report of the aged care royal commission, published on Monday, it was recommended daily budgets be urgently bolstered by $10 a day. The funds would be provided by the federal government on the proviso homes agree to conduct an annual review on how they have met residents’ basic needs and nutrition.
The proposal, estimated to cost less than a billion dollars a year, would force providers to report the number of instances of unplanned weight loss or dehydration.
Witnesses told the royal commission that unplanned weight loss was “rife” because there was not enough money to buy food or staff to assist residents to eat.
Sandra Iuliano, a senior research fellow with the University of Melbourne and a royal commission witness, said some facilities were doing a great job feeding residents, but others had much lower standards – including serving party pies for meals.
“If the resident wants to eat party pies, let them,” the nutritionist said. “But if that’s all we’ve got to offer, we need to look at other choices for them.”
“Food is also important to wellbeing, providing enjoyment through taste and smell,” it said in the final report, titled Care, Dignity and Respect.
“Too often we heard that residential aged care providers failed to meet the nutritional needs of people for whom they care and that they provided poor quality and unappetising food.”