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Warning of ‘tsunami’ of malnutrition in aged care amid call for national audit

The Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA) is calling for a national audit into malnutrition in aged care to gauge the true extent of the problem and understand the needs of affected aged care residents.

DAA CEO Robert Hunt said data presented to the aged care royal commission last year suggested malnutrition (or the risk of malnutrition) was evident in half of all residents.

Hunt suggested this snapshot is likely to be the “tip of the iceberg” and pushed for urgent attention to be given to the problem now, pointing out that there is no routine assessment of malnutrition for aged care residents.

“We cannot afford to wait until the recommendations in the final report from the commission are handed down in November – by then, many at-risk residents will have become malnourished,” he said.

“These figures should act as a tsunami warning, and without action we will soon be over-run with the economic, social and health costs as malnutrition progresses.”

The DAA said carrying out a national aged care malnutrition audit is a cost-efficient measure that would enable the government to create the policies and actions needed to deal with the problem, while also identifying those who need immediate intervention.

It also argued that dieticians can lead the way in providing improved nutrition to ensure a better quality of life for aged care residents.

“I urge the government to act now, to address the critical issues concerning older Australians,” Hunt said.

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