New service offers seniors a vital tool in reporting poor quality aged care food

May 15, 2023
A new hotline will be established to ensure aged care residents are being provided with nutritious meals. Source: Getty

Seniors living in aged care facilities across Australia will soon have a hotline to name and shame dodgy nursing homes that offer low-quality meals to their residents.

As part of the government’s $12.9 million promise to improve nutrition in the aged care sector, over 700 checks will be carried out to ensure that aged care providers are serving meals that are delicious and provide the appropriate nutrition needed for their clients.

Nutrition experts and dietitians will also be assessing up to 500 menus from nursing home providers to ensure that its residents are receiving nutritionally balanced meals.

The initiatives will be implemented by a new hotline unit called the Food, Nutrition, and Dining Advisory Support, which will be established within the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.

According to Council of the Ageing Australia CEO Patricia Sparrow, the hotline aims to help standardise the quality of food being served to Australia’s ageing population.

“Nursing homes have variable quality,  so some places do really excellent meals and some have had less than desirable meals,” Sparrow told 6PR Breakfast.

“We know it’s a really important thing for older people living in residential care.”

Aged Care Minister Anika Wells says the new support hotline showed the government’s commitment to improving the quality of life for aged care residents.

“Older people have a right to enjoy quality food and will now have a simple way to report inadequate food,” Wells said.

“[This new funding] will increase the capability and accountability of aged-care providers to deliver good food and nutrition.”

Meanwhile, Dietitians Australia Chief Executive Robert Hunt claims the federal government’s commitment to improving nutrition in aged care is the “start of the end of malnutrition in aged care in [Australia].”

“Malnutrition has been a silent faceless abuser in Australian aged care for decades,” he said.

“We have made it no secret as a member association and a profession that we will not tolerate it and have insisted dietitians be engaged in the sector immediately.

“Aged care residents and their families deserve nothing less.”

The new hotline comes after the Aged Care Royal Commission’s final 2021 report highlighted the importance of enhancing nutrition for older adults in aged care. In September of that same year, Dietitians Australia urged the government to enforce mandatory nutrition screening in nursing homes.

The new complaints and advice hotline will be fully operational by July and will be prioritising calls based on the risk level of the older individual.

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