Nutrition linked to increased complaints in aged care

Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Sector performance report October – December 2021

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission’s sector performance report for the Oct-Dec 21 quarter, has revealed an increase in complaints against aged care operators, with 1517 received in the quarter September 2021, to 1639 complaints in the December 21 quarter.

Of the top ten complaints lodged to the Commission in the quarter, four are linked to nutrition, heightening concerns that some residents in aged care are malnourished. The complaints include ‘food and catering’, ‘constipation and continence management, ‘falls prevention, and ‘change of clinical status and deterioration’.

Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian and food in aged care expert, Julie Dundon explains why the federal government must take urgent action against the unacceptable levels of malnutrition throughout the sector.

“The complaints that get to the Commission are usually the ones that haven’t been resolved by the provider or the complainant has no confidence in the provider to deal with it,” Ms Dundon claims.

“So, these numbers are concerning no matter which way you look at it.”

Dietitians Australia is calling on the federal government to ensure malnutrition is finally addressed through malnutrition screening for all residential and in-home aged care. And every residential aged care home should undergo an annual on-site menu and mealtime assessment as a condition of receiving the $10 Basic Daily Fee supplement.

Chief Executive Officer of Dietitians Australia, Robert Hunt, claims the government cannot afford to ignore this issue.

“Malnutrition increases the risk of falls, pressure injuries, hospital admissions and mortality,” Mr Hunt said.

“The federal government is currently only measuring unplanned weight loss, and this is not an internationally accepted measure of malnutrition. The real risk is we are not currently picking up all malnutrition in aged care. We must have mandatory malnutrition screening and include malnutrition in the Quality Indicator Program.

“There are validated, quick and easy malnutrition screening tools which can be used by aged care workers right now. And we have dietitians poised and ready to manage malnutrition. We just need government recognition and support to fix malnutrition once and for all,” added Mr Hunt.


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