Background: For 26 years, Wiltshire Farm Foods has been committed to delivering delicious meals to customers across the country and in more recent years developing meals especially for people with swallowing difficulties. Recently, the team has also been working with a range of healthcare professionals to help them support their patients. This includes the next generation of Dietitians, Occupational Therapists and Speech and Language Therapists who are currently studying at university. In response to requests from students themselves, Wiltshire Farm Foods has recently developed a free Dysphagia Awareness training programme for undergraduate healthcare professionals.
Sharing our knowledge: In 2016 Wiltshire Farm Foods wrote out to universities offering to deliver Dysphagia Awareness Training at their institutions for their students. Each session is delivered by Wiltshire Farm Foods’ dietitian and typically looks at the health risks associated with dysphagia including aspiration and malnutrition. The conditions that cause dysphagia and the national descriptors for texture modified meals are also discussed. The team also reviews the social issues people with swallowing difficulties can face around mealtimes and the importance of safety precautions such as using appropriate utensils, sitting position and posture.
Ready-Steady-Blend: The students get the chance to put the theory from the lecture they have just seen into practice. The team gives them hands-on experience in small groups of creating their own texture modified meals using blenders in our ready-steady-blend session. In this exercise they take a non-texture modified meal that they then need to blend to meet a Category C Thick Purée consistency. This exercise often highlights the difficulties in home blending and highlights what their patients or their patients’ carers have to achieve day in day out. The students also get a chance to try a selection of Wiltshire Farm Foods' delicious pre-prepared Queens Award winning Category C, D and E Texture Modified meals.
Next steps: The team has really enjoyed providing this session for students at several universities already including London Metropolitan University, University of Surrey and, most recently, Cardiff Metropolitan University and there are more sessions booked in for 2017. The aim of the programme is to provide insight on the issue of dysphagia and its associated risks, taught through a combination of academic, social and practical elements. To date Wiltshire Farm Foods has received great feedback and has already been invited back to run sessions for the next academic year. The team is looking to expand this programme and is keen to run these sessions for more students and universities. Wiltshire Farm Foods is pleased to work with universities around the country to pass on our knowledge to the next generation of healthcare professionals, to ensure those with swallowing difficulties have access to the right food that is safe, meets their needs and that they can enjoy.