National recognition for screening project
A project to help nursing home residents with swallowing problems has been shortlisted for a national award.
Swallowing problems (dysphagia) are common among older people and can lead to malnutrition and risk of choking and even death – so prompt and effective screening is the key to giving people access to appropriate support immediately.
The project led by Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust’s speech and language therapy service saw the development of a specially-designed dysphagia screening tool (the Nurse Dysphagia Screening Tool – NDAT) and training package for use by staff in nursing homes.
The ‘Swallow Screening in Care Homes’ project has been chosen as a finalist in this year’s Health Service Journal (HSJ) awards.
Pat Heaney, clinical lead for adult speech and language therapy, said: “It’s estimated that 50-75% of nursing home residents will suffer from dysphagia, yet there were no screening tools that had been specifically developed for the nursing home population.
“To address that gap we launched a project to design and evaluate a tool specifically for use by nursing home staff so residents could be screened immediately.”
Northumbria Healthcare community services business unit director Dr Paul Paes said: “We are delighted that this project has been recognised nationally.
“Safe eating, drinking and swallowing are not only vital for residents’ health and nutrition needs, but also contribute to their quality of life.
“Supporting residents who have swallowing problems aims to improve quality of life by reducing fear of choking and improving participation in the day-to-day social interaction that goes with mealtimes.
“Following the success of this pilot in North Tyneside we are further evaluating it through a research project involving a wider number of care homes, residents and trained staff.”
The HSJ Awards highlight examples of outstanding practice and innovation that help to safeguard and improve patient care.
The winner will be announced at the HSJ awards ceremony in November in London.
Jaclyn Curry – Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
0191 203 1654 / 07833 046680