Australia

Aged care peak body denies claims less than ten dollars spent on food

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A peak aged care body has denied claims nursing homes spend as little as six dollars a day on average on food for its residents.

The CEO of Leading Age Services Australia, the body representing private and not-for-profit nursing homes, has denied that nursing homes are spending as little as six dollars a day, on average, on food for its residents.

“That’s an interesting issue and that came up a while ago, and every residential facility I’ve visited since then, and I’ve visited quite a lot spend a lot more than six dollars a day on food,” Sean Rooney said in an interview for an ABC Four Corners investigation.

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Four Corners investigation into aged care
Four Corners investigation into aged care

“I’m not sure firstly, the veracity of the claim that it’s six dollars a day, but even if we assume that it is a low figure, there are some elements here to be understood.

“Firstly, these meals are being prepared for people who have a low nutrition requirement, that this is not for people who are eating a four-course meal.”

Family members take images of food given to aged care residents
Family members take images of food given to aged care residents
ABC Four Corners

The Four Corners investigation, which aired on the ABC a day after Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a royal commission into the sector, shows residents exposed to uncomfortable living conditions, and raised questions whether facilities were putting profits before care.

“Whether they are doing it intentionally or not, I don’t know,” Tony Northcote, a facility manager and clinical consultant from New South Wales said.

Mr Northcote was one of five aged care employees that spoke out about their workplace experiences.

Another was diversional therapist Maggie Bain from Victoria.

“I saw them try to save money by cutting staff hours down and adding to staff loads. I saw the food, really poor food,” Ms Bain told the program.

Several photos of meals were supplied to the ABC by family members.

“When the food doesn’t even look like food if a person is on a texture modified diet, for example, the food would be pureed and it just looks like a glob on the plate,” Amanda Crombie, a dementia clinical nurse consultant from Victoria said.

Another, Wayne Beasley, who is a personal care assistant from Queensland, told the program, “we would get sausage rolls, curry puffs and marshmallows for dessert.”

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