1.2 Introduction: a practical resource for trainers

The South Yorkshire Dysphagia Toolkit is a compendium of practical resources
for anyone with an interest in swallowing problems (dysphagia).   

The Toolkit was developed to spread three messages about dysphagia. These are:  

  1. Dysphagia is a patient safety issue.  It compromises quality of life and    health because of the risks of malnutrition, dehydration and aspiration pneumonia.
  2. Details matter in dysphagia or as one carer said “simple tips can save lives.”  She spoke about the importance of sitting upright to reduce the risk of food or drink going into the lungs. 
  3. Dysphagia is everyone’s business, especially those who assist people to eat and drink.  This is why training – to understand the problem and how you can help yourself or others to swallow safely – is vital.

We used the Inter-Professional Dysphagia Framework (Boaden et al 2006) to structure training across five levels, from Awareness through to Consultant Dysphagia Practitioner.   There is information about each level, but the emphasis is on the first two levels - Awareness and Assistant Dysphagia Practitioner – to help spread the key messages.

The Toolkit contains information about swallowing problems which is likely to be relevant for health and social care students and staff, people with dysphagia and their families. Most of the resources are targeted at fundamental aspects of care: eating, drinking, mouth care and taking medicines. 

The resources were developed in South Yorkshire over the last decade by colleagues at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Sheffield Health and Social Care Trust and Sheffield Hallam University to support best practice about dysphagia. We thank everyone for their contribution to this Toolkit.

Who is it for?

The Toolkit is likely to be of most interest to:

  • Trainers delivering sessions about dysphagia
  • Staff working in health and social care
  • People with swallowing problems and their family and friends
  • Students studying health and social care  

We anticipate that readers will take a ‘pick and mix’ approach, selecting the content according to their interests, rather than reading the Toolkit from start to finish.

What’s in it?

There are three main sections.  Each starts with a detailed contents page which also indicates the document format.  Some are in Microsoft Word or Power Point format, so that you can amend them to suit your purposes.  The sections are:

  • Background to the development and testing of the Toolkit; the Inter-Professional Dysphagia Framework; Skills for Health and Training Needs Analysis
  • Resources for trainers to deliver Awareness and Assistant Dysphagia Practitioner training; information about the other levels of the Framework and tips for trainers
  • Information resources for all about quality of life, nutrition, hydration, alternative forms of feeding, aspiration, administering medicines and mouth care  


Please let us know if, and how, you use this Toolkit.  We would welcome your feedback, especially any suggested improvements, new information or problems with the links. email: Sabrina.Eltringham@sth.nhs.uk

We hope you find the South Yorkshire Dysphagia Toolkit a useful addition to your training and information resources.

Sabrina Eltringham, Sue Pownall, Irene Ilott, Bev Bennett and Carolyn Taylor December 2013