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What does it cost to feed aged care residents in Australia?
Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Cherie Hugo, Bond University
  • Elizabeth Isenring, Bond University
  • David Sinclair, Stewart Brown Accountancy Firm
  • Ekta Agarwal, Bond University
Date of this Version
Document Type
Journal Article
Publication Details

Accepted version

This is the peer reviewed version of the following article:

Hugo, C., Isenring, E., Sinclair, D., & Agarwal, E. (2017, in press). What does it cost to feed aged care residents in Australia? Nutrition and Dietetics.

It has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.

Copyright © 2017 Dietitians Association of Australia

Aim Funding cuts to the aged care industry impact catering budgets and aged care staffing levels, which may in turn affect the nutritional status of aged care residents. This paper reports average food expenditure and trends in Australian residential aged care facilities (RACFs). Methods This is a retrospective study collecting RACFs’ economic outlay data through a quarterly online survey conducted over the 2015 and 2016 financial years. Results Data were compiled from 817 RACFs, representing 64 256 residential beds and 23 million bed-days Australia-wide. The average total spend in Australian Dollars (AUD) on catering consumables (including cutlery/crockery, supplements, paper goods) was $8.00 per resident per day (prpd) and $6.08 prpd when looking at the raw food and ingredients budget alone. Additional data from over half the RACFs (n = 456, 56%) indicate a 5% decrease in food cost ($0.31 prpd) in the last year, particularly in fresh produce, with a simultaneous 128% ($0.50 prpd) increase in cost for supplements and food replacements. Current figures are comparatively less than aged care food budgets internationally (US, UK and Canada), less than community-dwelling older adults ($17.25 prpd) and 136% less than Australian corrective services ($8.25 prpd). Conclusions The current spend on food in RACFs has decreased compared with previous years, reflecting an increasing reliance on supplements, and is significantly less than current community food spend.
Citation Information
Cherie Hugo, Elizabeth Isenring, David Sinclair and Ekta Agarwal. "What does it cost to feed aged care residents in Australia?" Nutrition and Dietetics (2017) ISSN: 1747-0080
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