Staff should look out for the signs of difficulty such as:
- coughing or choking soon after swallowing
- food, fluid and medication remaining in the mouth after swallowing
- food and drink spilling from the mouth
- wet gurgled voice after taking a drink
- excessive oral secretions
- residents complaining of the sensation of food or fluid being stuck in the throat
It is important to ensure that posture and positioning are maximised during feeding. If residents require close supervision and assistance this should be provided.
If there is a new onset of dysphagia or a deteriorating swallow, then refer to local guidelines to make a referral to the speech and language therapist.
If problems are severe then an urgent medical referral should be made. If the cause of swallowing difficulties is medication related, then discuss this with the GP or pharmacist for a review of medication to be conducted.