Can nurses assess patients with suspected swallowing problems or do they have to be referred to a speech and language therapist? What do you think?
“Nurses can and should assess the basic swallowing of their patients. Nurses should provide an environment suitable for a patient to consume fluid, this means ensuring they are upright, preferably in a seated position, with good upper balance. A patient should be tried with a small amount of water, and observations for coughing, gurgling, wet voice should be undertaken. If a nurse suspects a patient is having difficulty safely swallowing, many trust’s will provide a further nursing assessment, which has been supported by the SLT, this will enable you to carry out a further assessments. Referrals should only be made to a SLT once there is a validated concern relating to these initial assessments, for the specialist support.”
Neil Wilson is a senior lecturer and admissions tutor in pre-registration adult nursing at Manchester Metropolitan University.