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Ftag of the Week – F920 Requirements for Dining and Activity Rooms

This week’s Ftag of the Week is part of the Physical Environment regulatory group, F920 Requirements for Dining and Activity Rooms. This regulation requires that facilities provide one or more rooms that are designated for resident dining and resident activities. The rooms must:

  • Be well-lit – By definition, illuminated sufficiently to allow residents to perform tasks
  • Be well-ventilated – By definition, good air circulation, avoidance of floor-level drafts and adequate odor and smoke exhaust removal capabilities
  • Be adequately furnished – For dining areas, adequate furnishings refers to the ability to accommodate residents’ different physical and social needs. For activities areas, this refers to ensuring that the area has furnishings to accommodate the needs, interests and preferences of the residents.
  • Have sufficient space to accommodate all activities and be adaptable to multiple uses and to meet residents’ needs.

Surveyors can query residents as to whether they feel the furnishings and areas are adequate for their needs. They can also visually observe whether the space is adequate for resident activities, if there is crowding, and if resident access to space is limited. Let’s see how F920 has been cited under the LTCSP. Here are some actual citations:

  • During meal observation, there was limited space between dining room tables and residents’ wheelchairs, and residents were unable to enter and exit the dining room independently due to crowding. Surveyors noted that for one resident to leave the dining room, four residents in wheelchairs had to be moved to create space.
  • The majority of residents in one facility were observed eating dinner in their rooms. Surveyors identified a small area that had one table for dining and were informed that the previous dining room was converted into resident rooms and thereby reduced the amount of space available for residents to dine together in a common area.
  • During survey, residents were noted to be lined up along a hallway wall eating their lunches on bedside tables since there was not enough seating in the dining room. One resident stated to the surveyor, “This is a cover up; why am I sitting out here in this hallway? I never sit out here, I always eat in my room.” Another stated that she normally ate in her bedroom and did not want to sit in the doorway. Staff told surveyors that the residents in the hallways were all choking risks and needed to be observed so that is why they were there, however, upon record review, the residents that the surveyors spoke with did not have swallowing concerns.

While the intent of this regulation is to ensure the comfort of the residents during dining and activities, it’s also important to think about the potential implications in the event of an emergency. If you needed to quickly evacuate your dining room or activity area , how easily could it be done with a tangle of wheelchairs and no room to maneuver them? If there is insufficient room to have your residents all dining at the same time, consider serving meals in two seatings. The dining experience is meant to be a dignified one, not one where residents are routinely expected to eat in the hallway, which most residents complain about, or, worse yet, have to wait to exit the dining room until everyone is finished because of overcrowding and egress being blocked. It is also worth taking a look at what it looks like during those popular Bingo sessions and monthly birthday celebrations.

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