Today is Swallow Awareness Day! Dysphagia is the medical term for eating, drinking and swallowing disorders and is common in adults with a learning disability. Swallowing disorders will often affect people’s lives and dysphagia intervention can have a hugely positive impact on quality of life and health.
We are two Speech & Language Therapists working with this client group and we are specialists in dysphagia so we wanted to raise awareness of dysphagia, our roles and what we can do to help on national swallow awareness day. Today we showcased what artificial thickener can achieve. Thickeners which are usually prescribed change the thickness of the drink which effectively slows down the pace of the drink and buys a person more control with the drink. If the person lost control of their drink, this could make them choke or it could enter their lungs (aspiration). Some people will suffer from recurrent chest infections, pneumonia, weight loss but continued aspiration can also shorten somebody’s life significantly.
We set up a stand at Grimsby Leisure Centre this morning to coincide with our therapy colleagues’ health promotion group which features adapted bikes, trampolining and badminton every Wednesday morning. We offered “Cuddles in Cleethorpes” and “Prawnstar” Mocktails that we thickened to a slightly thick (IDDSI Level 2) and mildy thick (IDDSI Level3) consistency. We were pleased to have the opportunity to speak to approximately 120 people about dysphagia and what we do. We also got feedback on our mocktails that they were enjoyable despite the smoothie-like thickness.
Enya Killen & Gerlind Tredinnick (Adult Learning Disability Team at the Queen Street Centre)