Aged care peak body says food claims are misleading

LASA has hit back at media reports today comparing the amount of money spent on food for prisoners and pets with aged care residents.


Leading Aged Services Australia (LASA) CEO Sean Rooney said the reporting is misleading and could cause unnecessary concern for older Australians and their families.


Mr Rooney said all residential aged care facilities in Australia are accredited by the Federal Government and nutrition is a key consideration in this process.


“During both unannounced visits and in re-accreditation visits, residential care facilities are assessed against these standards,” he said.


“Outcome 2.10 in the standards asks whether care recipients receive adequate nourishment and hydration and providers are required to demonstrate that catering services are provided in a way that ensures the meal preferences, nutritional needs and special requirements of residents are met.


“Non-compliances against the standards are noted and sanctions can be applied in response to non-compliances.”


Mr Rooney said it is well recognised that frail residents of aged care facilities are at high risk of weight loss and malnutrition can occur.


“Providers take this issue very seriously and the Malnutrition Screening Tool (MST) is employed in all facilities to give a clinical indication and weight band and treatment strategies for weight loss.


“Where malnutrition is identified, response strategies will be employed which may consist of nutritional supplements prescribed by a General Practitioner.


“The cost of these supplements is not included in the average cost of food figure of $6.08 per day which is quoted in today’s reports. However, expenditure on dietary supplements has increased by 128% in the past year.


“In addition, it is extremely misleading to compare the food spend in an aged care facility with that of a prison. Around two thirds of aged care residents are women over the age of 80, who typically have a much lower calorie requirement, than the predominantly younger male, adult prison population.


“Conditions further contributing to limited dietary intake and use of supplements can include dementia, swallowing difficulties, poor dental health and chronic disease, depression and pain.


Furthermore, Mr Rooney said it is simply not true to say that aged care providers are making huge profits.


In 2017 the Aged Care Financing Authority (ACFA) reported that over 30% of all residential aged care providers reported a net loss in 2014-15 and 2015-16.


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13 February 2018.