In this article, we will be covering the definition of Dysphagia and some of the things you can do to effectively manage this condition to further improve safety, health and well-being.

Dysphagia is the term used to describe any medical condition or disability that affects a persons ability to swallow. Dysphagia is a symptom of various disabilities and health conditions and if managed poorly, can be life threatening as a result of choking or respiratory complications.

Dysphagia and NDIS

We will now discuss in detail some of the ways in which Dysphagia, safe swallowing and meal times can be managed more effectively to minimise risk to NDIS members as well as some of the requirements of an NDIS care provider.

Signs and symptoms of Dysphagia

Signs of Dysphagia include:

  • Difficulty with biting and chewing food
  • Coughing or choking while eating or drinking
  • Food or drink falling from the mouth.

These symptoms can progressively worsen with age.

Recommendations for management of Dysphagia

Risk of Dysphagia can be minimised by care staff being properly trained to recognise the symptoms of Dysphagia and having the person properly assessed by a medical professional so that their needs are appropriately met.

A Mealtime Management Plan may be recommended outlining a number of procedures to follow during mealtimes which will ensure the persons safety and comfort during meal times such as:

  • Improving or adjusting the seating position and support for the person
  • Modifying food texture or consistency to make food easier to chew and swallow
  • Safety techniques such as rate of eating or amount of food in each mouthful
  • Having a response plan in the event of coughing or choking
  • Use of feeding equipment for those with severe Dysphagia including safe utensils and in some cases, tube feeding technology

Ensuring these steps are followed by trained staff along with frequent review of meal and medication plans with effective communication between caregiver and appropriate healthcare professionals will all significantly improve the persons safety and quality of life as well as provide peace of mind to the caregiver.

Having a plan in place could save a life. What’s yours?

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