If a resident has difficulty eating, the facility must establish an individualized care plan to maintain the resident’s ability to eat food orally. There are specific therapeutic programs which can be used to help improve a resident’s ability to swallow or to help a confused resident maintain a fixed eating routine.
If despite the above efforts a resident loses a significant amount of weight, the law has specific requirements. Nursing homes must notify a resident’s physician immediately if there are signs of malnutrition, such as a weight loss of 5 pounds or more within a 30 day period. Federal guidelines urge nursing homes to reassess nutritional status whenever a resident experiences unplanned or undesired weight loss of 5 percent or more in one month, 7.5 percent or more in three months, or 10 percent or more in 6 months.