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$6/Day Per Person For Food In Aged Care- Ignorant & Disgusting Slight On Aged Care Industry

Posted on: March 26th, 2018 by Eric Hiam in Real Aged Care Stories

The recent news story about aged care facilities supplying food for elderly residents for $6/day per person & comparing it to the annual industry profit was a distorted article, which highlighted the complete ignorance of how an aged care facility is run.

The president of the AMA wrote an article, picked up by the media, where he asserted that all aged care facilities only spend $6/day per person, & compared it to food for inmates in gaols. He compared the daily amount of cost of food per person to the annual net profit the entire industry earns. The comparison was floored & the story did nothing for the good work that most aged care facilities do. But aged care is a soft & easy target, I guess the president of the AMA was looking to get himself some media coverage.

Is the aged care industry perfect? No it’s not, but neither is any other industry for that matter? So, I want to try & provide some balance to this story.

First, it is hardly fair to compare the cost of food per person, per day for an elderly resident in aged care (e.g. an 85-year-old woman) to the cost of food for a younger male in gaol (e.g. 24-year-old, mostly males), younger males have a much bigger appetite than elderly females.

Secondly, if you average the total net profit the industry makes over an entire year, to a net profit figure per person in care, per day, then the profit is $7/day. What the president of the AMA left out was the cost of salaries to run an aged care facility per person per day, is significantly greater than $6/day.
Further, does the president of the AMA really want to bring profit to the table as an argument, effectively making profit a dirty word. If you compare the industry profit of an aged care facility (4%pa) to the industry profit for doctors, surgeons & physicians (36%pa), then maybe he should be aiming his venom at his own industry. Doctors seem to be able to charge whatever they like. Even when there are industry guidelines for a medical service, (as provided by the health insurers or Medicare) the doctors can charge whatever they like, & there is nowhere the public can go to compare to see if the price charged is reasonable. If profit becomes the problem, i.e. if profit should not be earned (according to the president) then there would be no aged care facilities in existence, except for Government run facilities (& look what happened in Queensland to the State Govt run facility there).

The story also seems to lack any consideration of commercial reality, an aged care facility is usually purchasing food for more than 70 people, & as such would gain the benefit of wholesale prices, so it is cheaper. The other argument was the nutrition provided must be below par. Stop & think about it for a minute. Let’s say breakfast consisted of porridge, milk, stewed fruit, coffee & toast, even purchased at retail prices that is less than $1 per person, per day (& very nutritious), dinner is normally a small meal in aged care (to try to manage continence) & would often consist of soup, stew or sandwiches, also can be provided for less than $1/day. Therefore, that leaves lunch as the main meal of the day & when cooking for a large crowd, the actual food cost of $4/day can deliver vegetables, meat &/or carbohydrates for $4/day easily. It is not rocket science.

I am just fed up with the media constantly looking to blow up a bad story, & not provide a balanced view, & aged care seems to cop it all the time. I am not saying it is perfect, but by & large they do a great job. The media just don’t have the guts to do a good story (because “it doesn’t sell papers” as they say). We see great things happening aged care every day, but that never makes the news. At least he (president of the AMA) achieved his objective he got himself his 10 minutes of fame. Shame on you, why not really help old people & get your members to charge less for their services to those who can’t afford it, maybe their profit could be shaved to 4% & see what sort of service they deliver.

End of my rant

If you have any good stories about great things a staff member has done in aged care, let us know, we will at least tell the public about (because the media won’t). Some positive stories might help the public see some of the good things that happen in aged care.