3.1 Awareness
Introduction to the Awareness Level

Who needs Awareness level understanding?

Anyone who comes into occasional contact with people with swallowing problems should be aware of dysphagia.  

What do they need to know?

An awareness of the signs and symptoms of dysphagia; the risks and to whom they should report potential swallowing problems. 

Where can you find the knowledge needed at Awareness level? 

We used two short (10-20 minute) interactive e-learning programmes which contain the required knowledge about the swallowing process and dysphagia.   They were:   

  1. STARS Core Competence – No.13 Swallowing
  2. Skills for Health National Skills Academy for Health– Dysphagia module

There are also two activity sheets with the Dysphagia module to help consolidate and demonstrate learning to yourself and others.  


STARS (Stroke Core Competencies for Health and Social Care Staff) No 13 Swallowing.


STARS was developed by NHS Scotland, NHS Education for Scotland, Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland and the University of Edinburgh. See here for website.

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 here of SKILLS FOR HEALTH.


How can you deliver this training?

There are some principles of teaching and learning in the Tips for Trainers section.

The e-learning programmes contain knowledge which can be studied independently, or in one-one-sessions or in a small group.  Working in small groups enables learners to discuss what they know already, and afterwards begin to apply any new learning in practice together.  The two activity sheets (Sheet 1 and Sheet 2) may encourage sharing experiences. 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, staff knowledge, their preference and confidence in using computers and the availability of technical support.   Remember, 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. This can be given to learners in advance. 

Computer support may be available in your organisation or locally.   If so, add their contact details to the e-learning information sheet. 

It is helpful to complete any registration process 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, whenever they wish to do so.

Further information

There is more information about the Awareness level in the Inter Professional Dysphagia Framework, see, Boaden et al (2006)  Inter-Professional Dysphagia Framework on behalf of the National Dysphagia Competence Steering Group.  University of Central Lancashire, Preston.  Available here.