This guidance document aims to ensure safer practice for adults with learning disabilities who have difficulty in swallowing
). It highlights best practice and provides resource materials to give practical help. The tools can be adapted for local use and for any adult who has dysphagia.
Dysphagia is a serious problem for some adults with learning disabilities and, in serious instances, has led to death.
Since 2004, the NPSA has received 605 reports of choking-related incidents involving adults with learning disabilities between 30 April 2004 and 30 April 2007.
The majority of these incidents (58 per cent) took place at mealtimes. Incidents occurring in residential care homes accounted for 41 per cent of incidents and 58 per cent took place within inpatient and assessment services. The remainder occurred in public places.
The document sets out best practice for healthcare organisations, including:
- Putting in place a local policy on dysphagia care.
- Providing information about dysphagia management.
- Putting systems in place for the accurate reporting of patient safety incidents.
- Ensuring that carers and staff know that a change in a clients medication could produce side effects that may worsen their condition.
- Considering the designation of a lead clinician with overall responsibility for dysphagia services.
- Providing care by trained staff, and ensuring that they know how to deal with choking incidents.