Better swallow safety at Southend
04 August 2015
Eating and drinking is something that most of us take for granted, but for some patients it can be a major issue, causing an increased risk of food, drink and medications going down the wrong way and possibly causing serious chest infections.
But now, Southend University Hospital's expanded team of nine
speech and language therapists is on hand to assess, treat and
manage patients with feeding and swallowing difficulties, in order
to assist nursing staff in identifying patients who may need
The team is carrying out 'water swallow screen training' to
enhance awareness of these issues and increase insight into the
warning signs of swallow problems. The screening tool provides a
straightforward and safe way for nurses to establish whether a
patient's swallow safety is in question.
There was no speech and language therapy service to the acute
wards and gradually the team has grown to its current size. A
bigger team means that it can offer more training, faster, with
just over half the hospital having received the training to
This important initiative is being led by four members of the
team across the hospital. As swallowing issues can arise in a great
variety of medical conditions, the screen will be useful in all
Heading up the team is speech and language therapist, Greg
Heather, who said: "Providing this training to nursing staff means
that the team can get to an unsafe patient faster, decreasing the
occurrence of hospital acquired pneumonia secondary to aspiration.
This in turn increases our quality of care."
That quality of care is of paramount importance and as such
hospital staff have welcomed the initiative and been enthusiastic
about the training and the benefits it brings.
This latest round of training has focused on Blenheim, AMU 2,
Gordon Hopkins and Sita Lumsden wards.