Food contributes to the quality of life for nursing home residents, and when it comes to meal planning, certain practices are better than others.

When deciding on a nursing home for your loved one, food is an essential factor that you should consider. You need to know your loved one’s dietary needs and if the facility can meet them. Let’s take a closer look at how meals typically work in a nursing home so that we may better equip you with making this important decision.

Frequency of Meals

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has established protocols regarding meal service for nursing facilities. Each resident must receive at least three meals daily and at regular times comparable to normal mealtimes in the community. This protocol means that breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served to every resident each day.

The 14-Hour Rule

CMS has also established a regulation called the “14-hour rule.” This rule states that there must be no more than 14 hours between a substantial evening meal and breakfast the following morning. Nursing homes must offer snacks at bedtime daily to be compliant with the requirement.

Additionally, up to 16 hours may only elapse between dinner and breakfast if the resident group agrees to this span and a nourishing snack is ready to serve. The CMS shares that this regulation intends to assure that all nursing home residents receive adequate and frequent meals.

Snack menus generally include well-liked nutrient-dense food and beverages, such as:

  • Muffins
  • Popcorn
  • Rice cakes
  • Puddings
  • Fresh fruit
  • Cheese and crackers
  • Sandwiches
  • Yogurt
  • Peanut butter
  • Pitchers of juice, water, milk, or hot beverages

Meal Plans for Nursing Home Residents

Most nursing homes get their food from a delivery company that services many locations, providing different meal plans for each client. Food preparation staff, nurses, and dieticians work together to develop the proper meal plan for each resident within their facility.

When designing a meal plan for elderly patients, the following factors need consideration:

  • Nutritional needs
  • Dietary restrictions
  • Allergies
  • Loss of appetite
  • Exercise levels
  • Any medications the resident is taking and their effect on food
  • Upcoming or recent surgeries
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Difficult feeding themselves

Best Practices for Food Services

Each nursing home is required to serve meals and snacks, but the execution of this can vary between facilities. When choosing a care center for your loved one, look for the following ideal foodservice practices:

Fresh, colorful, and tasty food offerings

Flexibility with meal times (for example, offering breakfast from 7-10 A.M.)

A welcoming and sanitary dining atmosphere (music playing, fresh flowers, open-seating policy, etc.)

Readily available snacks at all hours of the day

Menus that detail dietary restrictions and allergy information

If Your Loved One Has Suffered Nursing Home Abuse, Flickinger Sutterfield & Boulton Can Help

Nursing home residents deserve quality care with the utmost respect and kindness. If a facility has failed to protect your loved one, the experienced attorneys at Flickinger Sutterfield & Boulton are here to help you fight for the care they deserve.We have offices in Provo, Orem, Saratoga Springs, and West Jordan, Utah, and we happily serve citizens all over the Utah and Salt Lake Valleys. Get in touch with us today to get started.