ArticleInsights Regarding Mealtime Assistance for Individuals in Long-term Care Lessons From a Time of CrisisSteele, Catriona M. PhD, CCC-SLP, SLP(C), Reg. CASLPO; Rivera, Tiziana MSc, RN, ACNP, GNC(C); Bernick, Laurie MScN, RN, ACNP, GNC(C); Mortensen, Lyen BScAuthor Information From the Swallowing Rehabilitation Research Laboratory, Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, Toronto (Dr Steele and Ms Mortensen); the Department of Speech-Language Pathology (Dr Steele) and the Faculty of Nursing (Ms Rivera), University of Toronto, Toronto; the Trillium Health Centre, Mississauga (Ms Rivera); the Ryerson University, Toronto (Ms Rivera); the School of Health Sciences at Humber Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning, Toronto (Ms Rivera); and the School of Nursing, York University, Toronto (Ms Bernick), Ontario, Canada. Corresponding author: Catriona M. Steele, PhD, CCC-SLP, SLP(C), Reg. CASLPO, Swallowing Rehabilitation Research Laboratory, Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, 550 University Ave, #12030, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5G 2A2 (e-mail: [email protected]). Data for this study were collected at Baycrest (www.baycrest.org), a geriatric care facility in Toronto, Canada. The second and third authors held a primary affiliation with Baycrest at the time of data collection. The authors recognize the contributions of Sonia Reichman, Susan Romeril, Carol Robertson, Pia Kontos, and Minn Yoon to the design, conduct, and analysis of the study. In addition, the authors acknowledge the staff volunteers who participated in the survey and focus groups conducted as part of this study. Funding for the study was provided by the Collaborative Research Program in Rehabilitation and Long-term Care (www.collaborativeresearchprogram.com). Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation: October 2007 - Volume 23 - Issue 4 - p 319-329 doi: 10.1097/01.TGR.0000299160.67740.44 Buy Metrics Abstract Focus groups were conducted with staff in a geriatric care facility who provided mealtime assistance during a quarantine that prevented family members from entering the facility. The volunteers' accounts reflected 3 primary themes that influenced their experience as mealtime assistants. First, the role of volunteer-recipient relationships emerged as paramount in facilitating optimal mealtime care. Strong reinforcement was derived from small signs of gratitude and awareness in the residents' nonverbal behaviors. This fostered the volunteers' sense of fiduciary responsibility toward the resident, thereby facilitating a meaningful and successful mealtime experience. Second, it was clear that the experience of being a mealtime assistant evolved over time, with changes in volunteer attitude mediated directly by the relationships that developed between volunteers and recipients. Lastly, the data reflect a strong awareness among volunteers of the challenges faced by nursing staff on a daily basis with respect to meeting the mealtime needs of residents in long-term care institutions, and a concern that nursing staff have insufficient time to develop intimate relationships with residents at the mealtime. These data strongly suggest that volunteer-assisted mealtime programs that focus primarily on social relationships can enhance the mealtime experience for residents in long-term care institutions. © 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.