The study suggests that a minimal increase in dairy offerings on aged care home menus, at an estimated cost of 66 cents per day per resident, could lead to significant reductions in ambulance transport, hospital admissions, rehabilitation and additional care requirements within residential facilities.
The projected savings of $66 million annually would translate to approximately $175 per aged care resident each year, as indicated by the analysis. The findings were derived from a comprehensive clinical trial involving over 7,000 aged care residents from 60 aged care homes in Melbourne and regional areas.
In the trial, increasing the daily intake of dairy and protein from two to three and a half servings resulted in a remarkable 33 per cent reduction in the risk of fractures among aged care residents. These promising results underscore the importance of exploring potential savings within Australia’s aged care system for effective long-term budget planning, noted Professor Zanfina Ademi, from Monash University’s Centre for Medicine Use and Safety.
“Our analysis confirms that implementing a nutritional intervention in aged care settings is crucial to prevent fractures and reduce subsequent public health expenses and individual care costs,” Prof Ademi said.
The clinical trial, led by the University of Melbourne and Austin Health, aims to improve best practises in aged care.
Participants were provided with increased dairy options such as milk-based coffee, cheese and crackers and yoghurt as part of their regular menus. The trial was financially supported by nine global dairy research foundations and three philanthropic organisations, including Dairy Australia. However, it is important to note that the funders did not play a role in the study’s design, data collection and analysis, or manuscript preparation.
The economic analysis, which highlights the potential savings and health benefits associated with enhancing dairy and protein intake in aged care homes, was recently published in the Age and Ageing Journal, further contributing to the growing body of knowledge in this field.