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Feeding Assistants

What are feeding assistants? 

Feeding assistants are nursing home employees who assist in the oral feeding of residents without complicated feeding problems. They are not nurses or certified nurse aides and they are not counted in any resident to nurse staffing ratios.

What are some examples of complicated feeding problems?

Difficulty swallowing, recurrent lung aspirations and tube or parenteral/IV feedings are just some examples of complicated feeding problems. Again, residents with these problems cannot be fed by feeding assistants.  They must be fed by nurses or certified nurse aides.

Are feeding assistants supervised in any way?

Feeding assistants work under the supervision of a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or registered nurse (RN), but there is no requirement that the LPN or RN be in the same room as the feeding assistants and residents. In an emergency, feeding assistants are required to call a supervisory nurse.

What training is required of feeding assistants?

Feeding assistants must complete a training program consisting of 8 hours of classroom curriculum and 2 hours of clinical practicum. (In contrast, certified nurse aides receive 100 hours of training.) At a minimum, the contents of the training must include training on feeding techniques, assistance with feeding and hydration, communication and interpersonal skills, appropriate response to resident behavior, safety and emergency procedures, including the Heimlich maneuver, infection control, residents’ rights, and recognizing changes in residents inconsistent with normal behavior.
 The nursing home that offers the training program must keep a record of all individuals who successfully complete the program and share such information if the feeding assistants seek employment at another facility. The Department of Public Health must approve all training programs proposed by the nursing facilities.

How many residents can a feeding assistant help feed at one time?

The maximum ratio is one feeding assistant to every two residents, or, one feeding assistant to assist to cue no more than four residents at one time.

What if I have concerns about feeding assistants?

Contact the State's Long Term Care Ombudsman Program. The Program has established a Work Group on Nutrition and Hydration. Its goal is to identify strategies to provide better nutrition and hydration to the state's long term care residents. Public input is encouraged.

What are the laws on feeding assistants?

There are both federal and state laws on nursing home feeding assistants.

42 C.F.R. sec. 483.35(h)

42 C.F.R. sec. 483.75(e)(1)

42 C.F.R. sec. 483.160

42 C.F.R. sec. 488.301

Conn. Agencies Regs. sec. 19-13-D8t(a) & (l)

These laws can be found at:

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