Patients in nursing homes often suffer from different types of mental and physical issues. Difficulty swallowing is one of those issues. During meals most facilities often just hand elderly residents trays of food without much concern about how or even if the meal actually gets eaten. This lack of supervision often leads to choking situations.
Some nursing facilities are aware that some patients have difficulty swallowing and have staff that monitor the patients while eating, or if necessary feed those patients. These types of nursing homes seem to be an exception to the rule however. Due to this mealtime in most nursing homes can cause injuries such as choking.
The complications elderly residents in nursing home may experience while eating and drinking is highlighted by the coking death of a patient in a New York nursing home facility Syracuse. After an investigation the New York Health Department issued an ‘immediate jeopardy’ sanction against the nursing home. This facility failed to plan for the care of this patient’s individual needs when it came to eating.
Nursing home patients need to be carefully watched during mealtimes when they first enter the facility in order to determine if the patient has any difficulties eating. A dietary plan can then be created based on these observations. Such plans can include having the patient eat nothing orally, eating a pureed diet, being offered an altered diet featuring moist food, having food cut into smaller bite-sized pieces, or if it is possible, offering a regular diet. Additionally, patients may require continuous monitoring after their arrival even if they do not have an eating issue to begin with because one may develop over time.
Just as nursing facilities must follow medication procedures, they must follow all dietary restrictions just as diligently. Nursing facilities become exposed to liability when they give a patient the wrong kind of foods, or not offering the patients assistance when they need it should a patient choke.
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