September 25, 2003


Proposed Rule Would Ease Stance on Feeding at Nursing Homes (ROBERT PEAR, 9/25/03, NY Times)

The Bush administration is relaxing regulation of nursing homes to allow low-paid workers with one day of training to feed patients who cannot feed themselves.

Administration officials said the new workers would improve the quality of care, providing additional assistance to patients at busy mealtimes. Nursing homes, facing a severe labor shortage, have long sought permission to hire such "feeding assistants."

But patients' advocates, including AARP and the Alzheimer's Association, objected to the change. They said it could cause "real harm to nursing home residents," in the words of David M. Certner, director of federal affairs for AARP.

Under a final rule to be issued in the next few days, nursing homes could hire part-time workers to help feed patients, a task that can now be performed only by licensed nurses, certified nurse's aides and other health care professionals.

Feeding assistants would have to complete an eight-hour training course. Nurse's aides, by contrast, are required to have 75 hours of training.

Is not the real point of this story that we have a government so intrusive that it requires you have 75 hours of training in order to shovel gruel?

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 25, 2003 10:00 AM

Back in the day (when I was a pre-med college student instead of web political pundit, heh), I worked in a rural hospital that was more of a nursing home. I was not a certified nurse's aide, but I nonetheless got to deal with "difficult" patients, including ones who couldn't clean or feed themselves. The feeding required no particular skills, other than a little compassion for one's fellow man. It certainly didn't require a bureaucracy!

Posted by: kevin whited at September 25, 2003 11:27 AM


I did the same back in the day. A nurses aid position at a local home was a college night job which allowed time for study, etc. A good bedside manner and some common sense was all that was required.

Posted by: Tom C., Stamford,Ct. at September 25, 2003 11:48 AM


Don't give them any ideas. Or it will take 75 hours of training to be a babysitter or parent.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at September 25, 2003 11:51 AM

Lawsuits. Pure and simple.

Posted by: Sandy P. at September 25, 2003 12:15 PM

Yes, lawsuits and instrusive government, but also the growing, general and quite neurotic view that all undertakings require formal training and technique. There are more than a few wacky leftist profs out there who argue that people shouldn't be allowd to marry without taking courses (divorce, however, is an absolute right)or have children before being certified by "parenting" training. It amazes me how many ordinary well-minded types will nod their heads in agreement at such ideas. We bring a lot of this on ourselves through our faith in pop psychology and Oprah like cults.

Posted by: Peter B at September 26, 2003 6:27 AM

"Well-minded" should be "well-meaning". Sorry.

Posted by: Peter B at September 26, 2003 6:28 AM

I didn't have a comment on this post yesterday morning, but yesterday afternoon I attended a workshop on light and the aged.

Seems a survey of San Diego nursing homes found the inmates experienced an average 1 min/day of sunlight.

I don't know what the appropriate level of training to shovel gruel is. The notion that the free market will make the best decision is absurd.

It will make the cheapest decision.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at September 26, 2003 3:52 PM

What free market? Warehousing the elderly is a government-funded program.

Posted by: oj at September 26, 2003 3:56 PM


I know you scientific types treat survey results as holy writ, but does that make sense to you? One minute a day on average? That's four who live behind enclosed walls for every one that gets five minutes. In San Diego?

Posted by: Peter B at September 26, 2003 4:18 PM

Yes, based on my grandfather's experience, which was not in San Diego.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at September 26, 2003 8:59 PM