As we celebrate Nutrition Week this week (October 10-16), food and nutrition for aged care residents across Australia will very soon come into sharp focus, as providers deliver their first reports under mechanisms to strengthen individual care.
In a continued response to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, the online reporting will improve transparency and standards, as providers receive increased funding through the basic daily fee of $10 per resident per day.
Residential aged care providers were required to commit to reporting on their services, in particular food and nutrition, as a prerequisite to receiving the funding boost.
The initiative aims to improve and strengthen one-on-one care for senior and vulnerable Australians in residential aged care settings across the country, and is part of the overall $17.7 billion the Federal Government is providing in response to the royal commission report.
Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, and Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Richard Colbeck, said 99 per cent of providers had taken up the 2021 Basic Daily Fee supplement, which requires a commitment from them to provide good quality services with a focus on food and nutrition.
“Such a strong take up must be commended and we now expect that all aged care providers will use these funds to deliver improved care, including food and nutrition, to senior Australians,” Hunt said.
“Food and nutrition is so important to keep our senior Australians healthy.
“The Department of Health is working with dietitians and nutrition experts to ensure the reports capture useful information, and most importantly improves the health of people living in aged care.”
Colbeck said the 2021 Basic Daily Fee is part of a $3.22 billion investment by Government into residential aged care which includes the increased supplement.
In the first month alone, the Government has paid out over $53.7 million to support providers through the 2021 basic daily fee.
“This is a significant investment towards improving the care which senior Australians, their families and the community rightly expect in residential aged care,” Colbeck said.
The 2021 basic daily fee reporting process is now open through the My Aged Care portal and must be completed by October 21, 2021, recording expenditure and hours, including spending on food and ingredients.
“We also require providers to detail how they are working to improve their daily living service offerings including food and nutrition, to gauge how the sector is delivering more for the senior Australians in their care,” Colbeck said.
The information will be used to provide insights into sector trends, to inform future policy, and may be used by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission for the purposes of regulatory intelligence.
It is intended sector wide information and insights on food and nutrition will be made publicly available.
Providers who do not submit a report by the due date will have their basic daily fee supplements suspended until the report is submitted.
Given that there is no option for back-payment, providers are encouraged to submit these as soon as possible.
The Government is also investing a further $14.2 million to review and strengthen the quality standards in residential aged care, with a focus on governance, diversity, dementia, food and nutrition.
To have your say on how the reforms are delivered, visiting the Ageing and Aged Care Engagement Hub here.
Nutrition Week will run this year from 10 to 16 October. Find out more about events and programs here.