19 Nov F-Tag of the Month
A Federal Tag (F-Tag) corresponds to a specific regulation within the Code of Federal Regulations For Long-Term Care. Each month on a Friday, we will discuss the F-Tags that pertain to the Food and Nutrition Regulatory Group.
Food and Nutrition Services F-800: Provided diets meet needs of each resident.
We all have our favorite and least favorite foods. These preferences often stay with us throughout our lives, and as we age they may even be more pronounced. For residents in senior living communities, this is no different. It may become even more important to ensure that residents receive food they love in order to ensure that they are eating and drinking enough.
This regulation requires that facilities provide “each resident with a nourishing, palatable, well-balanced diet” that meets the resident’s daily nutritional needs, special dietary needs and takes into consideration each resident’s preferences.
There is a clear emphasis on resident choice in the regulation. The community staff must support the nutritional well-being of the residents while respecting an individual’s right to make choices about their diet. Common issues cited include residents who dine in their rooms not being provided with information related to alternate meal options, as well as identified food preferences not being addressed. Additionally, residents who eat in the dining room are often given the main entree without being asked what they really prefer.
The Interpretive Guidance (IG) states that reasonable efforts to accommodate the residents’ choices and preferences must be made by the facility, as this helps ensure that residents are offered meaningful choices for their meals and diets that are satisfying to the residents as well as nutritionally adequate. What does this mean for community staff? Simply put, we should take any opportunity to ask the resident for feedback regarding their meal choices and preferences as these may also change. Not only should preferences and dislikes be documented when the resident is admitted, but more frequently as needed. The Dining Services Director or other dining staff should be present in the dining room and be available to honor reasonable resident requests.
The regulation expects ongoing communication and coordination between all departments and staff to ensure that residents’ nutritional and dietary needs are met according to the individual resident’s assessment and care plan, and that the plan of care must indeed include the resident’s choices. Nursing staff, activities, social workers and therapists may communicate any requests from residents directly to the dining staff as everyone plays an important role in the overall care of the resident.
This particular F-Tag is also directing the surveyors to cite this tag if there are “overall systems issues” identified regarding how the facility manages and executes food and nutrition services. Any requests from a resident must be taken seriously and followed up on right away before it becomes a significant complaint stemming from an upset resident or family member. What is your process? Holding a monthly Food Committee meeting is a great way to obtain positive feedback regarding food and menu choices as well as constructive feedback. However, this meeting should not be a venue to express detailed, personal complaints. Rather, the residents should be made aware of who they can request to speak to should they want to convey or update any preferences or dislikes. Staff also need to be aware of who and where to relay this information.
For more information on F-Tags and how you can make sure your community in operating in compliance with federal regulations, contact VP of Health Services Randi Saeter at [email protected].