Report: RUGS reimbursement likely underestimates feeding assistance needs

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The staff time required to provide feeding assistance for long-term care residents of nursing homes is probably not adequately recognized by the national Resource Utilization Group system used for reimbursement, according to a report in the current issue of Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

RUGS reimbursement likely underestimates the amount of staff time required to improve food and fluid intake in nursing home residents, according to the report, which was written by researchers at the Borun Center for Gerontological Research in the School of Medicine at the University of California at Los Angeles.

The researchers, who studied 91 nursing home residents in six facilities, found that across different levels of eating dependency, residents required an average of 35 to 40 minutes of staff time per meal. This was true regardless of whether the assistance needed was social stimulation, verbal cuing, physical guidance, full physical assistance or a combination of help. This led researchers to conclude that RUGS reimbursement may not reflect the time spent on the assistance.