Nursing homes in Australia are spending a measly $6 a day to feed their residents, even less than what jails are spending on prisoners’ meals.
A new study in the Nutrition and Dietetics journal found aged care homes, on average, allow $6.08 to be spent on each resident to provide them with three meals a day.
Prisoners are getting better quality meals as jails are spending $8.25 per inmate.
The Australian Medical Association labelled the report findings a ‘national disgrace’ and president Michael Gannon told The Courier Mail: ‘My children’s guinea pigs get fresh ingredients and more money spent on them.’
Aged care homes reaped $1 billion in profits last year and Mr Gannon added $6 for meals for the elderly in care was ‘wholly inadequate’.
Australians living in their own homes averaged almost three times that amount – $17.25 a day – on food and drink.
Photos obtained by 9news.com.au show two examples of dinners served up at a nursing home in Queensland.
One plate contains two pieces of unappetising corned beef while the other has a few potatoes and cut up bits of boiled sausage.
The woman who provided the photographs told the website: ‘The food is given a fancy name on the menu but sadly does not live up to its standards and the photos below show the lack of quality.
The latest research was based on financial reports from 817 aged care providers in Australia caring for 64,256 residents.
The study was written by Bond University dietitian Cherie Hugo and accountant Stewart Brown. They say that half the residents of aged care homes in the country suffer from malnutrition.
The study found that nursing homes cut spending on food by 30 cents per resident last year.
‘Increasing the aged care profit margin by reducing food spend impacts the quality of resident care and can contribute to malnutrition rates in aged care,’ it states.
Leading Aged Services Australia, which represents nursing homes, told The Herald Sun: ‘In a nursing home there are significant economies of scale with food and, with many people very frail and necessarily on supplements, costs per resident will vary.
‘Other conditions contributing to dietary requirements can include dementia, swallowing difficulties, poor dental health and chronic disease, depression and pain,’ said chief executive Sean Rooney.