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Communal Dining in Nursing Homes

The question of whether nursing home residents are allowed to eat in the dining room, as opposed to being required to eat in their rooms, has been raised on several Monday COVID-19 update webinars with members. LeadingAge NY had previously shared this Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) guidance but is providing it again, as the issue of communal dining is an important one for residents. The document contains a number of clarifications of previously issued CMS policy and guidance. With respect to communal dining (question #14), the guidance states the following:

Q: Communal Dining: Are all residents forced to eat in their room?

A: Residents are not forced to eat in their rooms. Residents may still eat in dining rooms, however, nursing homes should adhere to social distancing, such as being seated at separate tables at least six feet apart. We note that social distancing should be practiced at all times (not just while dining). We further note that eating in dining areas with appropriate social distancing only applies to residents without signs or symptoms of a respiratory infection, and without a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19. Facilities should refer to CDC guidelines for managing residents with signs or symptoms of a respiratory illness.

Contact: Elliott Frost, efrost@leadingageny.org, 518-441-8761