Mealtimes in nursing homes: striving for person-centered care

J Nutr Elder. 2009 Oct;28(4):327-47. doi: 10.1080/01639360903417066.


Malnutrition is a common and serious problem in nursing homes. Dietary strategies need to be augmented by person-centered mealtime care practices to address this complex issue. This review will focus on literature from the past two decades on mealtime experiences and feeding assistance in nursing homes. The purpose is to examine how mealtime care practices can be made more person-centered. It will first look at several issues that appear to underlie quality of care at mealtimes. Then four themes or elements related to person-centered care principles that emerge within the mealtime literature will be considered: providing choices and preferences, supporting independence, showing respect, and promoting social interactions. A few examples of multifaceted mealtime interventions that illustrate person-centered approaches will be described. Finally, ways to support nursing home staff to provide person-centered mealtime care will be discussed. Education and training interventions for direct care workers should be developed and evaluated to improve implementation of person-centered mealtime care practices. Appropriate staffing levels and supervision are also needed to support staff, and this may require creative solutions in the face of current constraints in health care.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Food / standards*
  • Food Preferences
  • Food Services / standards*
  • Homes for the Aged*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nursing Homes*
  • Patient-Centered Care*