Regulators see need to issue new guide for dining assistants in nursing homes

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Many residents require eating assistance.
Many residents require eating assistance.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has completed a guide for providers who want to employ dining assistants in their facilities. After a drawn out battle, CMS agreed five years ago to allow the use of paid feeding assistants––provided they achieve a certain level of training and have the approval of the state.

Yet despite what was seen as a big victory for providers – because they would no longer have to use higher paid nursing staff to assist with many feeding tasks -- they have been relatively slow to train or use the assistants, federal regulators say.

“We believe this is due to the limited resources currently available to educate decision-makers on designing and implementing dining assistant programs, and insufficient understanding of the advantages to the resident” and operators, report authors explain.

“Dining Assistant Programs in Nursing Homes: Guidelines for Implementation” is available through the American Health Care Association Web site here. The 138-page guide leads providers through a step-by-step process for assessing their options and resources, as well as how to set goals and implement a sustaining program.