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Rule Allows Unskilled Workers to Feed Nursing Home Patients

  • September 25th, 2003

The Bush administration is relaxing nursing home regulations to allow low-wage workers receiving one day of training to feed patients who cannot feed themselves, according to an article in the New York Times.

Nursing homes, which face a severe labor shortage, have been seeking permission to hire such "feeding assistants." But patient advocates, including AARP and the Alzheimer's Association, say the change could harm nursing home residents.

Until now, the feeding of patients could be performed only by licensed nurses, certified nurse's aides and other health care professionals. Under a final rule which will take effect within the next month or so, nursing homes could hire part-time workers who could begin feeding patients on their own after completing an eight-hour training course. Nurse's aides, by contrast, are required to have 75 hours of training and must take a standardized test to prove their knowledge and clinical skills. No competency test will be required of the new feeding assistants, most of whom will be paid minimum wage.

"The administration is trying to address a real problem in a very bad way," said Janet C. Wells, director of public policy at the National Citizens' Coalition for Nursing Home Reform, a consumer group. "A 16-year-old feeding assistant, with one day of training and little experience, will not be equipped to deal with your 90-year-old grandmother if she starts to choke or has heart failure."

To read the full New York Times article, click here.

(Article may be only temporarily available.)

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Last Modified: 09/25/2003

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