Feeding assistant rule upheld by court

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Providers are praising a recent federal court ruling that upholds the use of trained feeding and hydration assistants in nursing homes.

The decision, which came down last Thursday, upholds regulations from the Department of Health and Human Services. The government had been defending the regulations for more than a year against petitioners who filed a class action lawsuit to invalidate the rule.

The ruling is a major victory for providers. Since 2003, the rule allows people with about one-tenth of the training time of a certified nurse's aide to help residents with eating and drinking. It is up to states' health departments to decide if they want to allow assistants in facilities, according to the regulations.

"On behalf of nursing home residents and hard working caregivers throughout America, we are gratified the Court reached the common sense decision that assisting residents and supporting facility staff with qualified, trained feeding and hydration assistants will improve quality of care and quality of life for residents," said Bruce Yarwood, acting President and CEO of the American Health Care Association.