Quality of care, Regulations

CMS provides manual on dining assistant programs

CMS recently released a manual designed to help nursing facilities that want to implement dining assistant (DA) programs. The manual, Dining Assistant Programs in Nursing Homes: Guidelines for Implementation, is intended to help nursing facilities decide whether to implement DA programs and understand how to implement the programs according to federal and state regulations.

Since 2003, CMS has permitted nursing facilities to use DAs to supplement the services of certified nursing assistants (CNAs) at mealtimes, according to the manual. That year, CMS published a notice in the Federal Register which set standards for the minimum training and supervision DAs must receive. Many states also have regulations about DA training and supervision, and some states do not allow DAs, according to the manual.

The American Health Care Association (AHCA) has posted the manual on its Web site.

“We are pleased that CMS’ manual, which is the culmination of several years of work, recognizes and permits dining assistant programs in nursing homes when adopted by a state,” says Lyn Bentley, director of regulatory services at AHCA. “The manual will be helpful in guiding management staff through a step-by-step process of assessment, goal identification, program design, implementation and planning for program sustainability.”