Feeding a Patient CNA Skill

Once you begin working as a CNA you will likely run into a patient at some point who needs assistance eating. This is why one of the skills you can be tested on as part of the CNA skills exam is how to feed a resident. There are many things to keep in mind as you work through this skill. Many patients may be sick and have little appetite, or may eat very slowly. Learning how to navigate these situations is an important skill in becoming a successful CNA. 

To learn all of the necessary steps for the feeding a patient CNA skill, please watch this video demonstration. 

Feeding a Patient CNA skill procedure

  1. Before feeding a patient you will need to perform the standard beginning tasks as you would for other portions of the CNA skills exam. Knock before entering the patient’s room, greet the patient by name, introduce yourself, explain the task you are about to perform, close the privacy curtain, and then wash your hands.
  2. Prepare the resident for the meal by allowing them time to use the toilet and wash their hands.
  3. Position the resident in a sitting position appropriate for eating.
  4. Match the items being served on their food tray with the patient’s order and the appropriate patient.
  5. Take necessary steps to protect the patient’s clothing as preferred by the patient.
  6. Make note of the temperature of both liquids and food to see if anything is too hot or too cold.
  7. Feed the resident with the appropriate utensil, offering moderate sized bites of food to avoid any eating hazards. Please note that some residents may require you to cut food into smaller pieces so it can more easily be chewed and swallowed.
  8. Through the eating process, interact with the patient as necessary. It may require a small amount of coaxing to get some patients to eat, while others may just prefer some conversation. Position yourself at eye level with the patient to make conversing with them seem natural.
  9. Alternate feeding the resident solids and liquids, asking the patient for their preference as you progress through the meal. 
  10. Make sure the patient swallows their food before proceeding with more.
  11. Once the patient is done eating, clean them as appropriate.
  12. Remove their tray and clean the area.
  13. Perform your standard completion tasks – ensure the patient has a clean environment, ask if they are comfortable, give the patient their call light, wash your hands, and document the amount of food the patient ate during their meal.

* Please be sure to consult the testing materials provided by the skills test provider in your state to ensure that these steps for how a CNA should feed a patient are in compliance. The procedure in different states and from different test providers can vary slightly and greatly affect your score.