Could adequate nutrition add 37 million care hours for residential aged care?

While reviewing my digital solution to measuring food consumption, I quantified the problem and solution.

It is estimated that 40-70% of the elderly experience malnutrition or the risk of malnutrition. This can lead to many issues including increased risk of frailty, falls, illness, injury, dementia, behavioural issues, reduced quality of life and premature death.

Malnutrition can result from not eating enough food throughout the day, caused by lack of desire, ability, will, taste, choice, comfort, time, support, tools, atmosphere, resources.

In residential care, malnutrition can lead to increased care staff hours for personal care, dressings, medication, continence management, toileting, behavioural support, answering nurse call system, movement support, assistance with meals, supplements & hydration and ongoing paperwork. Some care tasks require multiple care staff to perform.

An average 30 minutes of residential care labour per resident per day caring for malnutrition issues (which some believe is very conservative), equates to over 37 million care hours per year.

By adopting a “food first” approach to residential aged care, there is significant opportunity to pivot valuable labour hours to resident-facing quality care that will better meet new Quality Standard 1 – Consumer Dignity and Choice, while placing the resident at the centre of their lived experience.

A win – win – win for all involved by delivering better quality outcomes.

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