May 18, 2021

Why the extra $10 a day per person may not hit the plates of residents

Aged care food

Of these discussions, many have expressed concern that the pledge of an extra $10 per day per person for food will barely scratch the surface of what is needed to improve the nutrition of residents in aged care facilities. 

Chefs, kitchen managers and advocates in aged care have said the pledge will do nothing to improve the poor quality food that is offered in many facilities, a major factor of the royal commission. 

As one of the top three complaints from residents and families in aged care, food quality is one of the main points expected to be improved in the recommended overhaul of the sector. 

From July, the federal government will be handing aged care operators an extra $10 per person per day as a direct response to this complaint. 

According to research conducted by The Lantern Project in 2017, it was revealed that the average spend of facilities on food for residents was around $6.

Speaking to The Sydney Morning Herald, chefs Tim Deverell and Nicholas Hall were sceptical that the money would be used in the kitchens, having both spoken at the royal commission regarding their careers in the kitchens of aged care facilities. 


The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission inspected 320 aged care facilities last year, finding 27 homes that failed to provide meals that were “of suitable quality and quantity”. 

Mr Hall, who no longer works in aged care, said that kitchens always knew then the regulators were coming to inspect homes. 

“You knew at least a week ahead,” he said. 

Recalling an inspection in one home he worked in, he said that they showed no care for cleaning “until the day before the audit. And then all of a sudden … everything gets wiped down, everything gets picked up”.

Chef Tim Deverell, who worked in aged care facilities across Sydney for 11 years, said that one home he worked in had one chef preparing all meals for 150 residents. This meant that one person was responsible for preparing 450 breakfasts, lunches and dinners, plus 300 morning and afternoon teas.

“At the other end of the scale, two large contract catering companies to aged care facilities had food costs of $7 and $6.50 per resident per day,” he said.

At Treasurer Josh Frydenburg’s announcement of the $10 supplement towards aged care, many have expressed their wishes to have that money go towards the quality of food offered to residents. However, there is suspicion that this may not be the case. 

There has been a call for a federally set minimum spend on food for aged care residents, and that this extra $10 should come with the proviso that it is used specifically for meals. 

However, Monash University aged care expert Professor Joseph Ibrahim told The Sydney Morning Herald that he thought it more likely that operators would pocket the supplement instead. 

“To a public audience, another $10 for mum is great,” Professor Ibrahim said. 

“Scott Morrison will present it as money for residents, but behind closed doors, it’s money for operators to stop them whingeing at the government.”

What do you think about the allocated $10 per day per person to improve the food in aged care facilities? Share your thoughts with us below.


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  1. I believe this article is 100% right.
    I have a family member in a nursing home
    he says the food isn’t good and the portions are very small especially for a larger person
    I have seen these meals and they are not nutritious and not enough to satisfy anyone

  2. On two occasions I have worked in organizations with catering outsourced to a third party. On both occasions it was brought back in-house due to quality issues. However, their actual expenditure per resident per day on the menu components cannot be compared to an average RACF, especially a small provider or stand alone. One of the providers we had contracted to was the largest purchaser of food stuff in this country, bigger than Coles or Woolworths, so their purchasing power and discount, or rebates, was far in excess of what anyone else could do. Hence the less expenditure. It is certainly possible to provide a nutritious menu for any resident and spend less than $14 per resident per day, lots of providers do, including some who have worked with Dr Hugo form The Lantern Project.

  3. There has to be a process in place whereby Aged Care Providers, have to account for the spending of not only Government money, but also the fees they charge residents. Was this a recommendation of the Royal Commission?

  4. Clearly the$10 is insufficient, it’s a pathetic bandaid on a broken sector. The residential sector has been grossly underfunded for ten years. The haters can argue with the Royal Commission if they choose but that’s the fact.

    The $10 increase will go to keeping the doors open and a roof over vulnerable residents heads,to keep hundreds of people employed and safe.
    The federal liberal government cut funding,blocked CPI, axed subsidies,etc and they ignore the royal commission that called for up to $10 billion increase per year… Morrison put up only $3billion. A disgrace.

  5. Yikes. I know a home or two that still live on under $10 a day, so the company can pocket it, like this home, restricts basic access to any changes to what they ask for to eat/drink, don’t stick to residents requirements and 10000000% they know a week before any audit gets followed through so they can prepare and “look good”. Almost Every god damn morning for morning and afternoon tea, it’s 8/10 times, arnotts dry biscuits. Where’s the fruit? And nutritional standards? Oh right it only gets shown when the safety commission is expecting to be coming. And DONT EVEN GET ME STARTED ON CLEANING. The place is filthy.


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