The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently began promoting nursing home dining practice recommendations that stress resident choice and urge providers to use caution with restricted diets.

CMS provided a training video about the standards to its Quality of Care surveyors in February, and asked surveyors to share the video with providers in a March memo. The video is available online.

The standards were originally published in 2011, and are based on research and recommendations of 12 clinical organizations sponsored by the Pioneer Network and the Rothschild Foundation.

“The importance of the CMS memo to state survey agencies regarding the standards and the video cannot be overstated as these dining practice standards support individualized care and self-directed living for people living in nursing homes,” said Cathy Lieblich, M.A., director of network relations at the Pioneer Network.

Research shows seniors with chronic conditions do not benefit much from sugar and sodium restrictions. Feeding tubes, pureed foods and thickened liquids also have little benefit and are sometimes associated with increased risk of dangerous medical conditions, the standard-setting organizations said in their 2011 report. The standards call for a “regular diet” to be “the default,” except in rare cases when restrictions are necessary.

These standards are not requirements, CMS clarified. However, operators may “rely on” their adherence to these standards when responding to surveyors’ questions about changes to residents’ previously restrictive diets.