Australia’s health system could save an estimated $66 million a year if aged care residents upped their dairy and protein intake.
Aged care homes would only have to increase the dairy on their menus by an estimated 66 cents per day, per resident to make the change, a Monash University economic analysis has found.
The estimated $66 million a year saving would account for a drop in the need for ambulance transport, hospital admissions, rehabilitation and extra care requirements in residential facilities.
The saving would equate to $175 for every aged care resident each year, the analysis found.
The findings are based on an earlier clinical trial involving more than 7000 aged care residents from 60 Melbourne and regional aged care homes.
The trial found the risk of fractures reduced by 33 per cent for aged care residents whose daily dairy and protein intake was increased from two to three and a half servings.
Looking at potential savings in Australia’s aged care system was essential for planning its long-term budget, Monash centre for medicine use and safety Professor Zanfina Ademi said.
“Our analysis confirms in order to prevent fractures and reduce the flow-on effects to public health and individual care costs, implementing a nutritional intervention in these settings is critical,” Prof Ademi said.
The clinical trial was run by the University of Melbourne and Austin Health.
Principal investigator Dr Sandra Iuliano hoped the findings would be used to improve best practice in aged care.
The clinical trial involved swapping in or adding dairy, including milk-based coffees, cheese and crackers or yoghurt, on aged care homes’ menus.
The research was funded by nine global dairy research foundations and three philanthropic organisations, including Dairy Australia.
The funders had no role in the study’s design, data collection and analysis or manuscript preparation.
The economic analysis was on Tuesday published in the Age and Ageing Journal.
(Australian Associated Press)