A recent study conducted by the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association (JAMDA) indicates that surveyors routinely failed to detect quality care issues with respect to the assistance provided by nursing home staff members at mealtime. As we have discussed many times on this blog, malnutrition and dehydration are two of the most common and most important issues facing nursing home residents.
According to the JAMDA website, “Guidelines written for government surveyors who assess nursing home (NH) compliance with federal standards contain instructions to observe the quality of mealtime assistance. However, these instructions are vague and no protocol is provided for surveyors to record observational data. This study compared government survey staff observations of mealtime assistance quality to observations by research staff using a standardized protocol that met basic standards for accurate behavioral measurement.”
The study found that nutritional care (or lack thereof) is a significant problem in long-term care facilities, and noted that it is underdetected in the survey process. The researchers that conducted the study call for surveyor training on this issue that fosters more accurate and consistent observation of feeding assistance issues and a “standardized protocol to organize and guide” surveyor observations.