Dysphagia is a medical condition where a person has difficulty swallowing food or liquid. This can be caused by a variety of factors: neurological conditions, head and neck injuries, and age-related changes in the swallowing muscles.
For people with dysphagia eating and drinking can become challenging and even dangerous, as it may lead to choking or aspiration. As a result, they may require modified meals that are easier to swallow and digest.
Modified meals refer to a variety of food consistencies and textures that are altered to make them easier to swallow. At CPL if we have a concern around a client's swallowing ability then we reach out to one of our Speech Pathologists and they will put together a mealtime management plan. This plan will give a client and any staff who are supporting them peace of mind that those foods will be safe for that client.
There's a lot of different ways to modify diets. For a full list check out the IDDSI framework. But these are some ways in which food and drinks can be modified to support someone with dysphagia:
Pureed foods: Foods that are blended to a smooth, uniform texture.
Thickened liquids: Liquids that have a thicker consistency than usual, which can make them easier to control in the mouth and prevent choking.
Chopped or minced foods: Foods that are cut into small pieces that are easier to chew and swallow.
Soft and bitesize foods: Foods that are cooked until they are soft and easy to chew, such as cooked vegetables or mashed potatoes.
Easy to chew: avoiding high risk foods which are difficult to chew or swallow and present an additional risk.
Modified meals can help people with dysphagia continue to enjoy a varied and nutritious diet while reducing the risk of choking or aspiration. However, it's important to work with a Speech Pathologist and sometimes also a dietician to ensure all needs are being met.
In summary, dysphagia is a medical condition that can make eating and drinking difficult and even dangerous; but modified meals, such as pureed foods, thickened liquids, and chopped or minced foods, can help make eating easier and safer.
What CPL can do to help
As well as having a highly experienced and knowledgeable team of Speech Pathologists, we have a Mealtime Management Training for all of our Support Workers who work with a client who has dysphagia or any other trouble around swallowing or mealtimes.
You don't need to use our support services in order to get in touch with our Speech Pathologists, or anyone else in our Allied Health team. They're always happy to help anybody who they can, and find you the right support. If you have any questions please get in touch with them!