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.”
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