Ward based feeding and swallowing training.




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Peer reviewed




 WHY THE STUDY WAS UNDERTAKEN This paper summarises the findings of the Northamptonshire Healthcare (NH) Feeding and Swallowing Training programme initiative. The results of the pilot study for this programme were presented at the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists Conference in 2012. Speech and Language Therapists (SLTs) in the acute setting spend half of their time involved in providing feeding and swallowing care (Bixley, Blagdon, Dean, Langley & Stanton, 2011). As part of the multidisciplinary team, the overall aim of feeding and swallowing intervention is to help clients to meet their nutritional need. A recent Care Quality Commission (2011) report suggested that 51% of hospital trusts were not achieving this standard. Hospital based policies such as protected mealtimes highlight the importance of feeding within the acute sector. Inter professional guidelines (Boaden, 2006) and the evidence base for dysphagia management (Magnus, 2001) also support the use of specific feeding and swallowing training. However delivering comprehensive training within large hospitals is difficult using classroom based packages. Especially in environments where ward teams are large, staff teams change regularly and releasing staff for off ward training is difficult. The Northamptonshire feeding and swallowing programme was introduced to provide a sustainable swallowing training package that could overcome some of these difficulties, by providing training to nursing staff on the ward

 HOW THE STUDY WAS DONE The NHSLT team evaluated the impact of their innovative feeding and swallowing project by comparing the results of three ward based measures: B1, B2 and B3. The research was carried out on four acute wards, one after another. It was conducted during the hospital wide, one hour protected lunchtime slot. In each of the wards observational and questionnaire measurements (B1) were taken before implementation of a two week, eight day, training package. After the ward based training had occurred two further evaluations were conducted, one immediately after the training package had been delivered (B2) and one two weeks after the programme had been completed (B3). Observational measures were qualitative and recorded general impressions of the feeding practise on the ward. Questionnaire measurements were both quantitative and qualitative and were designed to identify what ward staff understood about feeding and swallowing difficulties.

 WHAT WAS FOUND Over the course of the ten month research project, twenty four hours of training was provided for fifty four people, on four different wards. Training was provided to 31 health care assistants, 17 nurses, 3 student nurses and 2 assistants and 2 others .Statistical analysis of the ward based knowledge questionnaires suggested that there was a significant difference between the scores obtained in B1 and B2 and B3 (Kruskal Wallis H (2) = 15.537, p=0.014 with a mean rank of 18.64 for B1, 34.83 for B2 and 37.78 for B3). These findings suggest that the feeding training programme had resulted in a measurable difference in ward staff knowledge and this difference was evident after the training programme had been completed.

 IMPLICATIONS FOR FUTURE POLICY AND PRACTICE The results of this study suggest that ward based feeding programmes are an effective way to deliver training. This type of training targets people who do not normally attend swallowing training courses because they cannot be released from their work. It also means that training can be individualised to the needs of different wards and staff members. This type of training delivery may be a valuable supplement or alternative to classroom based teaching programmes.

• REFERENCES Blagdon, B., Bixley, M., Levis, N., Bird, L., Hood, G. & Murphy, K. (2012). Taking dysphagia management out of the classroom: A ward based feeding and swallowing project. Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists Conference, Driving transformation Using Evidence Based Practice, 52. Bixley, M., Blagdon, B., Dean, M., Langley, J. & Stanton, D. (2011). In search of consensus on aphasia management. Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists Bulletin, October, 18-20. Boaden, E. & Davies, S., Storey, L., & Watkins, C. (2006). Interprofessional Dysphagia Framework. www.uclan.aca.uk/facs/health/nursing/research/groups/stroke Care Quality Commission (2011). Dignity and Nutrition Inspection Programme. Newcastle upon Tyne: Care Quality Commission. Magnus, V. (2001). Dysphagia training for nurses in an acute hospital setting – a pragmatic approach. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, 36, 375-378.


Conference poster


dysphagia, evidence base


Bixley, M. et al.(2014) Ward based feeding and swallowing training. Mind the Gap Conference Book of Abstracts, 137.


Research Institute

Institute for Allied Health Sciences Research