I’ve had the privilege of raising awareness of many important health issues through this column and this one is no exception.
By the time this goes to press, I will hopefully (and proudly!) be able to say I have completed a challenge put to me by some of our speech and language therapists as part of European Swallowing Awareness Day.
I have pledged to spend 24 hours drinking thickened fluids, helping our therapists raise awareness of the support they give to adults and children who have swallowing difficulties (dysphagia).
Across Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust, in hospitals and the community, many patients will be having thickened drinks due to swallowing disorders resulting from stroke, brain injury, dementia, or Parkinson’s Disease to name a few.
For people with swallowing difficulties, thickened fluids may be used to reduce the risk of drinks ‘going down the wrong way’ which can lead to chest infections, pneumonia, reduced quality of life and can be fatal.
The 24-hour thickened fluid challenge involves mixing all drinks, including tea and coffee, to a stage 1 (syrup) or stage 2 (custard) consistency.
I like to pride myself on being up for most challenges, but any opportunity to put myself in our patients’ position is a valuable one. I’m also pleased to say colleagues across the trust will be joining me in this.
Well done and congratulations to our speech and language therapists who are taking part and helping to raise awareness of this issue in support of European Swallowing Awareness Day. Please do find us on Twitter @lincscommhealth and @LCHS_Adult_SLT to see how we got on!
n Andrew Morgan is the chief executive of the Lincolnshire Community Health Services NHS Trust.