i. St. Joseph's Villa - Feeding Assistance Program

Program Name:  Feeding Assistance Program


Goal:     To enhance opportunity for residents' physiological needs of nutritional intake and are provided with a dignified, pleasant social dining experience.



  • To maximize independence with queuing and physical assistance with utensils and self-feeding

  • To engage a calm and therapeutic social environment that assists to decrease anxiety and reduce agitation

  • To encourage a pleasant social interaction and conversation

  • To ensure optimal nutritional intake.



    Malnutrition and dehydration are prevalent in residents residing in long term care and are associated with higher rates of complications. Many residents experience gross and/or fine motor impairment, swallowing difficulties, disorientation and confusion, and poor appetite, all of which impact on nutritional intake.

    Feeding assistance has traditionally been the role of nursing staff (RNs, RPNs, PCAs), however with an ageing and more complex population there are challenges in socializing and feeding the growing number of nutritionally vulnerable people. Studies have shown that dietary intakes increase when volunteers are available to complement the efforts of nursing staff in this area.

    Volunteers assist residents who are unable to independently feed themselves in order to improve dietary intake. In addition, there are other activities listed below that volunteers may assist with which benefit the overall quality of life and environment of residents and staff environment during mealtimes.


The Feeding Assistance Training Session provided to volunteers upon initial entry into Volunteer Program includes an overview of:

  • Nutritional needs of residents
  • Factors impacting appetite and intake
  • Physical, cognitive, and perceptual deficits
  • Strategies to assist a resident experiencing such deficits
  • Adaptive utensils
  • Safe feeding techniques
  • Positioning for safe feeding
  • Diet types and textures
  • Roles of the RN/RPN, PCA, FSA in the dining room


Where:  St. Joseph’s Villa Dining Rooms in the resident assigned neighborhood as scheduled through the Volunteer Coordinator.


When:  Scheduled mealtimes which are: Breakfast 9:00 a.m., Lunch 12:00 p.m., and Dinner 5:00 p.m.



Chang C Wyckle M, Madigan E (2006). The effect of a feeding skills training program for nursing assistants who feed dementia patients in Taiwanese nursing homes. Geriatric Nursing.

Division of Quality Assurance. (2009) Wisconsin Feeding Assistant Training Curriculum. Department of Health Services, State of Wisconsin.

Walton K, Williams P, Bracks J et al. (2008). A volunteer feeding assistance program can improve dietary intakes of elderly patients--a pilot study. Appetite.