3.2 Assistant Dysphagia Practitioner

Introduction to Assistant Dysphagia Practitioner Competence 

Who needs Assistant Dysphagia Practitioner Competence? 

Everyone who helps patients to eat and drink needs to do so safely and in the best possible way for each person.


What do they need to know and do?

They should be able to identify swallowing difficulties, help people to eat and drink safely using strategies recommended by a dysphagia practitioner and refer to more experienced/qualified dysphagia practitioners, if they have any concerns.


What are the dysphagia competences for Assistant Dysphagia Practitioners?

Skills for Health has three National Occupational Standards for Assistant Dysphagia Practitioner competence.  These are:    

  • CHS159 Provide support to individuals to develop their skills in managing dysphagia, see here
  • CHS 160 Assist others to monitor individuals’ attempts at managing dysphagia, see here
  • SCDHSC0214 Support individuals to eat and drink, see here

Where can you find the knowledge needed at this level? 

There are two, short (10-20 minute) interactive e-learning programmes which contain the knowledge about the swallowing process and dysphagia.    These are:    

  • STARS Core Competence – No.13 Swallowing
  • Skills for Health– Dysphagia module

STARS (Stroke Core Competencies for Health and Social Care Staff) No 13 Swallowing was developed by NHS Scotland, NHS Education for Scotland, Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland and the University of Edinburgh. See website here.                             

Skills for Health – The Dysphagia module is available from the National Skills Academy for Health - Skills for Heath website. The course was developed in partnership with the National Patient Safety Agency in 2010. To access this resource you need an NHS email. Alternatively if your place of work operates an electronic staff training record the dysphagia module may be available and accessed from here. This material has been reproduced from the website  of SKILLS FOR HEALTH, click here for website.





What are the skills needed at this level?

The skills involve mixing liquids and food to the right consistency.   This means being able to apply the national descriptors about the texture of food and the consistency of liquids.  These skills will be practiced during the practical session 

How can you deliver this training?

This training can be delivered on a one-to-one basis or in small groups. 

The Tips of Trainers section contains some principles of teaching and learning.  There is also some practical information, including a suggested session plan, a training presentation and other useful resources (dysphagia quiz and answers, food consistency quiz and answers and a role play exercise) and an equipment list.  

The e-learning programmes contain knowledge and videos about mixing liquids to the different consistencies.  Practising mixing liquids and recognising dysphagia diets according to the national descriptors, is vital.  See Resources about Dysphagia for a wealth of information about nutrition and thickening drinks.

The certificates provide evidence that the e-learning programmes have been completed.  


Computer Support

When planning the training, consider the availability of computers with internet access, the learners’ confidence in using computers and the availability of technical support.  Some colleagues will be less familiar with computers, or have little experience of e-learning.  

There is an e-learning information sheet to introduce the e-learning programmes. 

Find out if there is any computer support available in your organisation or locally.   If so, add the contact details to the e-learning information sheet. 

It is helpful to complete any registration processes in advance, to avoid delays and frustrations with the technology.   Also, give the learner their registration information, so they can log on to the e-learning programmes again.  

Further information

Refer to the Assistant Dysphagia Practitioner competences in the Inter Professional Dysphagia Framework, see