Nurse managers should consider improving the quality of education and providing staff education to reduce mealtime difficulty in older adults with dementia, according to a new study by Korean researchers. 

The study included 57 long-term care facilities, determined the relationship between intrapersonal, interpersonal, and environmental factors and mealtime difficulties. It also sought to identify which factors were most influential.

Key intrapersonal factors included age, cognition, activities of daily living and the number of beds in the facility. Influential environmental factors included the education and training of mealtime assistants, and whether an environment suitable for eating had been established. Researchers found the best environments provided adequate food and utensils reflecting individual preference or eating abilities, gave residents enough time to eat and ensured mealtimes were taken together with other residents. 

“Furthermore, it is essential that different levels of adequate nursing staff be set according to facility size,” researchers wrote in the Journal of Nursing Management. They also called on managers to strategically position direct care staff at meal times.