Staff at Prince Charles Hospital have completed a year-long pilot project to improve the care of patients who suffer serious problems with swallowing.
Ward 35 has been recognised as a ‘Dysphagia friendly ward’ by the speech and language department at Cwm Taf University Health Board.
Dysphagia is a medical term for difficulty when swallowing. This can occur when there is a problem with any part of the swallowing process and can lead to serious pneumonia, dehydration and malnutrition. It can also reduce people’s enjoyment of eating and drinking.
Paula Haddow, who led the project said: “Becoming a dysphagia friendly ward has led to a more seamless, co-ordinated, person-centred care for our patients whilst strengthening our links with the speech and language team.
“Staff feel they can now fully empathise with the dysphagic patients and feel empowered to make mealtimes a more positive experience".
As a result of the project, ward 35 now has nominated dysphagia link nurses who will be the first point of contact when patients suffering with dysphagia are admitted to the ward. All staff on the ward have also completed basic dysphagia awareness training with some completing advanced training.
Jenna Adams, specialist speech and language therapist said: “Staff are now more confident in spotting the signs of dysphagia. Meal times are safer and more enjoyable for patients and the standards of care for dysphagia patients have improved on the ward.
“The dysphagia friendly wards campaign will now be rolled out to other wards across the health board which will improve standards of care for our patients with dysphagia”.