What is Dysphagia?
Dysphagia is the medical term for difficulties with swallowing. Some people will struggle to swallow certain types of foods or liquids, while some people cannot swallow at all. Dysphagia is usually caused by another health condition, such as stroke or dementia. Often elderly people are more at risk of developing dysphagia, as are people with learning disabilities.
The International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation (IDDSI)
Care homes are being encouraged to move to use the International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative (IDDSI). This is a collaboration between professionals including; dietitians, speech and language therapists, food scientists, physicians, and nurses. It aims to review existing standards and create consistent categories for texture modified foods and liquids for people with dysphagia. The aim of the framework is for healthcare professionals to use the same terminology to improve patient safety.
For service users that are at risk of choking or asphyxiation, preventing risk is essential. Therefore, having a global language is a huge step forward in best practice and reduction of this risk. Even though food and fluid may not seem particularly risky, it can be for those with dysphagia. Service users who struggle to swallow, could become seriously ill or even die. However, this is usually because of confusion or miscommunication about diet textures or drink consistencies.
With a digital care management system, food allergies and food textures are clearly displayed as risks. Therefore this means the carer is fully briefed at the point of care. This functionality links to CQC’s 5 key lines of enquiry, allowing staff to identify and manage risks to people with complex needs in relation to their eating and drinking.
Working together, the new IDDSI framework is available in digital care planning software. This prioritises patient safety, reducing the risk of harm to service users and maintaining their safety.