Improving food and nutrition in aged care

New compulsory reporting on food and nutrition in residential aged care has revealed the amount providers spend each day, per person, has increased.


Since 1 July 2021, the Federal Government has provided an additional $10 per day per resident to eligible residential aged care providers.


By the end of December 2021, approximately $350 million was distributed to residential aged care providers to improve the delivery of care and services including food and nutrition.


To continue to receive this 2021 Basic Daily Fee supplement, providers are required to report to the Department of Health every three months on food and nutrition expenditure, and the quality of daily living services provided to residents.


Data collected through a new quarterly reporting system shows that the average spend on food and nutrition for residents has risen considerably since the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety cited $6 per day as found in a 2017 study.


From July to December 2021, the average spend per person per day in residential care was more than $12.


Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Richard Colbeck, said, “While providing appropriate food for some residents can be challenging, it is a fundamental responsibility of aged care providers and a right of all aged care residents.”


Of all 2600 residential care services which self-reported the data through My Aged Care the average daily spend was approximately $13.94 in Q1 and $14.27 in Q2.


Among the 75 per cent of services that reported expenditure on food and ingredients as on-site only, the average expenditure was $12.25 in Q1 and $12.44 in Q2.


Mr Colbeck said less than two per cent of providers reported spending under $6 per resident, per day despite the additional funding.


He said the Department of Health will refer any provider spending less than $10 per resident per day, to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission to consider regulatory action.


Mr Colbeck said, “The Basic Daily Fee supplement was provided to residential aged care services to improve the delivery of care and services to senior Australians, with a focus on food and nutrition – that is what residents and their families expect.


“A spend less than $10 by any provider is no longer a satisfactory outcome. Residents deserve more.”


Additional actions being taken by the Government to improve food and nutritional outcomes include:

  • Asking 20 per cent of senior Australians in residential aged care whether they like the food, as part of consumer experience interviews, and publishing the service level results on star ratings later in 2022;
  • Requiring residential aged care providers to collect and report on the new Quality Indicators, including unplanned weight loss, and publishing the service level results on star ratings later from December 2022; and
  • The urgent review of the Aged Care Quality Standards, which includes a focus on food and nutrition.


The quarterly self-reporting on food and nutrition, including oral health and meal preparation, allows the Government to work more closely with the sector to improve food practices.


The reports were developed in consultation with dietitians, nutrition experts and the aged care sector.


Further information about the food and nutrition reporting can be found at


31 March 2022.