Don’t Let Dysphagia Ruin Your Resident’s Mealtimes

Meals are often the highlight of the day in a care home, but when you have dysphagia, and struggle to swallow, the risk of choking and food or fluid entering your lungs, can present a real challenge and even make the meal itself a danger. In fact, dysphagia is a common reason for hospital admission.

Nor is it a problem that is limited to the elderly, dysphagia can affect people of all ages. However, it doesn’t have to spoil mealtimes, which can still be a pleasure as well as safe, as long as meals are prepared and presented in the right way. Just pureeing meals can reduce their nutritional content, and the dish may end up being less appetising to the eye. This is where specialist ranges of texture-modified dishes can help, for example Simply Puree which is available through Bidfood. This range is created especially for people living with dysphagia, and each dish is consistent in the nutritional content it provides, and compliant with IDDSI textures.

The International IDDSI Diet Standardisation tool is a global standard providing terminology and definitions that describe the texture of modified food and thickened liquids used for individuals with dysphagia of all ages, in all care settings and for all cultures. The Simply Puree IDDSI guide is a free easy to use tool to help you understand and cater for the different IDDSI textures. You can find it here:

This is a great online tool, which not only gives a refresher on IDDSI levels for chefs who are already knowledgeable about dysphagia, but it’s also a great learning tool for those with less experience, who may be new to the industry. It takes you through the journey of how to adapt a range of different dishes to meet all levels within IDDSI – the cooking, blending and serving processes that ensure a dish is safe for residents with different needs. This makes dining a fun and sociable experience for those living with dysphagia, covering all their needs from nutritional to hydration. It means they can get involved with all meal occasions, which is good for their wellbeing, and presenting really appetising dishes will, of course, encourage them to eat more.

Many of those living with dysphagia find it difficult to consume enough calories throughout the day, so you may need to fortify recipes to maximise the calorific value of each spoonful. An easy way to achieve this is to switch water for full fat milk or cream, melted butter or oil, sauces, gravy, honey, or juice for dilution. It’s important to ensure that dishes are visually appealing too, so it helps to make up modified consistency foods separately, and then pipe them onto the plate while still hot, so that you can serve them immediately. If you are diluting or pureeing food, it’s also important to use stronger flavours so that the food is still flavoursome. As with any dish, do a taste check before you serve to make sure it meets the same high standards you aim for with the rest of your menu.

When it comes to caring for those living with dysphagia, its key to regularly monitor their intake very closely, with a nutritional assessment and weekly weight check, to ensure they are not losing weight and are getting enough nutrition and fluids. Make sure those who are preparing food are fully trained and aware of the risks associated with dysphagia, as well as the correct way to prepare modified consistency foods, and to thicken fluids for patients who need this.

To help with this, Bidfood have put together a new e-learning platform, called Caterers Campus, which is a fun and interactive training resource that takes the hard work out of supporting your team. The modules are aimed at helping them consistently create nutritious and delicious meals that are tailored to residents’ individual requirements. There are seven modules available, which include one on Dysphagia and IDDSI, as well as Fortification, Hydration, Dementia, and Cost Control amongst others.

You can find more information about it here:

Bidfood have developed the programme exclusively for their customers to help their teams learn in bite-sized modules, in a way which works for them – anytime, anywhere, on any device. Knowledge is checked on completion of each module, and each person taking a module gets a certificate of achievement for their records – but if it’s not a pass, it’s not a problem, you can take it again! There are also no sign up fees for the programme.

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