Food is a basic need that everyone deserves. And not just any food – healthy balanced meals that is both nutritious and satisfying. So why aren’t some aged care residents receiving that?

While living in aged care, having a hearty meal can be the highlight of a resident’s day. A good meal can satisfy hunger, lift moods and be a focal point for socialising.

Last week, Senator Derryn Hinch introduced the Aged Care Amendment (Ratio of Skilled Staff to Care Recipients Bill 2017), which aims mandate staff ratios in aged care homes.

Now Senator Hinch has hit back at aged care organisations over the food they serve their elderly residents and clients – comparing what they eat to the food people in prison receive.

Senator Hinch should know, he has been to jail twice – once in 1986 Hinch was jailed for 12 days and a second time in for 50 days in 2014. Both times for contempt of court.

So he does have some experience with prison food. “I ate 100 times better in jail at Langi Kal Kal Prison several years ago than most pensioners do whether they are at home, or they’re in a nursing home or in a retirement village,” the senator told parliament.

Getting food right is particularly important in aged care, not just for nutritional reasons, but for medical ones too.

As most aged care residents are on some form of medication, many are required to be taken with food – so it’s important that the resident eats right so that their medication works effectively.

On average, aged care facilities spend $6.08 per person per day on food. And over 50% of aged care residents are malnourished.

Senator Hinch said many of Australia’s aged care facilities were failing the elderly by cutting costs from areas like the daily food budget to put profits first.

“If you can afford it, there are some terrific establishments in this country,” he said.

“But there are some real shockers.”

“[Older people have] helped make Australia the great country it is today – they have worked, they have paid taxes for decades, they have raised their families, some have been to war.”

“Unfortunately, many of these Australians who have given so much to society are highly vulnerable, and are not currently guaranteed the standard of care they deserve within our aged care facilities,” said Senator Hinch.

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