Prisons outspend aged care on food

Cost-cutting, funding that doesn’t reward good food, and residents not having a voice contribute to poor quality nutrition in our aged care homes says a nutrition expert.

Cherie Hugo, a Teaching Fellow in Nutrition and Dietetics, writing in the online journal The Conversation, says her research found that the average food spend in Australian aged care homes was A$6.08 per resident per day.

“This is the raw food cost for meals and drinks over breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and supper,” she wrote.

This $6.08 is almost one-third of the average for older coupled adults living in the community ($17.25), and less than the average in Australian prisons ($8.25 per prisoner per day).

Hugo says “one in two aged care residents are malnourished and this figure has remained the same for the last 20 years”.

Meanwhile, celebrity chef Maggie Beer told the Aged Care Royal Commission hearings in Cairns that the $6 daily food budget for each resident was absolutely inadequate.

“It just breaks your heart because it doesn’t have to be like that. It should never be like that,” she said.

Beer said she wants people in aged care homes to be fed food full of flavour, goodness and pleasure.

“We have a responsibility to give a good way of life for those in aged care and in the community.”