MyAko develops dysphagia online courses for carers

myAko.com has developed dysphagia training in conjunction with a speech and language therapist.

The course, developed by Dr. Elizabeth Boaden, a fellow of the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, has spent over 30 years working to improve the quality of life of those living with dysphagia, a condition that affects between 50-74 percent of care home residents and which is an undertreated issue that can cause preventable deaths.

Designed for nurses and other health and social care workers, the course is available from myAko.com from September 28 2020.

What is Dysphagia?

Dysphagia refers to a difficulty in swallowing, ranging from minor issues when eating and drinking, to a complete inability to swallow or, at least, an inability to do so safely. Dysphagia can result in an individual feeling incredibly anxious or depressed as well as cause physical problems. Dysphagia can cause undernourishment and can lead to choking or aspiration.

It is absolutely essential that those working in the elderly care sector are completely prepared to assist anyone suffering with swallowing difficulties.

Dr. Elizabeth Boaden

The Signs

Dysphagia can be identified in multiple ways. It should first be noted that the family of the resident, or the resident themselves, may state that they have difficulty swallowing. Alternatively, they may simply display a lack of interest at mealtimes, or perhaps noticeable difficulty when attempting to chew or swallow their food or drink. A resident may even experience weight loss, if swallowing is an ongoing issue.

Constant coughing and throat clearing, eye watering, sweating, and a change in the residents facial colour, is likely to indicate aspiration. Frequent chest infections, weight loss, dehydration, or even pneumonia, can indicate aspiration that has continued over a prolonged period of time.

Awareness and Education

The training, available on myAko.com from September 28 2020, will help healthcare workers to better understand the impact of dysphagia and how to help those in their care. The nurses training helps them support Speech and Language Therapists with remote dysphagia assessments, without the need for face-to-face visits.  Utilising remote teleswallowing techniques helps to reduce current NHS waiting lists and nurses and carers are able to improve early diagnosis and treatment of dysphagia.

Moving Forward

It is imperative for care staff to be able to quickly and effectively screen for dysphagia, as a delay in doing so may have devastating effects. It is a care worker’s duty to ease the struggle presented by dysphagia; not only to avoid the possibility of death, but to simply ensure that a resident’s later life and emotional well-being is as comfortable and content as possible.

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