Care Staff’s Experiences and Views about Implementing SLT Dysphagia Recommendations with Care Home Residents
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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BACKGROUND: Elderly people are suggested to be at a higher risk of developing dysphagia, a difficulty with swallowing, than the general population (Aslam and Vaezi, 2013). This can be a result of age-related changes, or due to a number of diseases (Morris, 2006) and is associated with increased mortality and morbidity (Zalatel, 2016). Care Assistants (CAs) play a pivotal role in supporting individuals to meet their needs, including when eating and drinking. No systematic study in the United Kingdom has been carried out to investigate the experiences and views of CAs working in care homes implementing Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) dysphagia recommendations. AIM: To determine CAs’ experiences and views regarding implementing SLT dysphagia recommendations with care home residents. METHOD: This was a qualitative, phenomenological study that used semi-structured interviews to gather information from participants in regards to the research aim. The sample comprised of 7 CAs recruited from 5 care homes from one county in the UK. RESULTS: The study identified strong areas of consensus in relation to experiences and views regarding implementing SLT dysphagia recommendations with care home residents. The initial results suggest that many CAs report high levels of confidence. However, on further discussion, the CA’s demonstrated strong feelings of anxiety about assisting with eating and drinking. There was a consensus that practical barriers including time constraints and prioritising residents’ needs often prevented recommendations from being implemented. There was also a consensus from the CAs in regards to the need for SLT dysphagia specific training in order to meet recommendations. CONCLUSION: On discussion the CAs reported they would benefit from SLT dysphagia specific training. Care home core induction training does not include dysphagia specific training. Therefore, this may be something for the SLT profession to consider developing in collaboration with care homes. Similarly, it may be beneficial for the SLT profession to consider developing their role within a care home to ensure CAs understand the risks of non-compliance and work with the care home to ensure the importance of SLT recommendations is understood.
B.Sc. (Hons) Speech and Language Therapy
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