Speech Pathologists aren’t hard to swallow

Still looking for ways to provide the best possible care to your residents and stand out from the crowd? Ever thought of engaging a speech pathologist’s expertise for something other than a reactive response to dysphagia?

Truth is, that seems to be about the only time residential care facilities ever call for a ‘Speechy’. Cough, cough, choke, choke. Hmmm…better get a swallowing assessment! Reactive dysphagia management is a high risk strategy for your residents; we’re all aware of the consequences of aspiration. Knowing what to look for and recognising problems early can be critical to you residents’ health.

What about your modified diet program? Do you have a well-documented and easy to follow system that ensures the correct food textures and fluid grades are consistently provided to your residents? Are all your catering and care personnel familiar with the preparation of various modified diets and trained to recognise swallowing problems? (There’s so much more to dysphagia management than just squirting a few pumps of thickener into the water jug!)

Here’s another way to establish your point of difference. How many facilities do you know that have a formal review program for all residents? And once a resident has been assessed and a modified diet has been prescribed, do they remain on that diet indefinitely or is there a documented plan for them to be regularly reviewed for any improvement or deterioration? By proactively managing dysphagia with a comprehensive program, regular screening and staff training you’re already doing something that 90% of the others don’t.

You know, these things are so easy to implement that it’s difficult to understand why most facilities don’t do them. Maybe it’s time to establish a professional relationship with a good Speech Pathologist?

But a Speechy can do so much more for your residents than just manage dysphagia. Every residential facility cares for residents that have a communication deficits resulting from stroke, acquired brain injury, Parkinson’s disease, hearing loss, dementia or any other impairment that can affect speech and language. Current research estimates that up to 95% of residential care recipients are living with at least one communication disorder, so it’s imperative for us to address these issues.

Residents with communication problems are predisposed to social withdrawal, anxiety and a range of other mental health issues. Proactively manage your residents’ needs and the benefits are obvious. A skilled Speechy can help you improve a broad range of resident outcomes. Once again, you’ve not only positively influenced resident care, but you’ve created a tangible point of difference from your competitors.

From augmented and alternative communication solutions to dysphagia management solutions, a qualified speech pathologist can provide the expertise that will make your facility stand out from the rest. And because many of these common disorders can be challenging for residents and their families, you’ll also have the benefit of a professional ally to help you guide and educate them when difficulties arise.

It really is so important to highlight all the great things you do when prospective clients tour your facility. Be sure to point out the benefits of your comprehensive program. Make a big deal of your efforts to ensure communication problems are efficiently managed. Tell them about the positive psychological benefits of maintaining effective communication… and then show them your facility’s decreasing usage of antidepressants and antipsychotics to prove your point! It’s your job to educate the clients and show them what you do and why you’re different… you can guarantee that your competition won’t be doing these things.

Many of us already have some of the pieces in place, but putting it all together in a way that demonstrates tangible resident benefits is the key to making your facility the first choice when someone in your community needs residential care.

Esse quam videri

AHP has a suite of innovative strategies to help your facility provide the care that your residents deserve and the community demands. Times are changing…don’t get left behind.

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Suite 504/ 8 Woodville Street, Hurstville, NSW 2220 Email: agedcare@aushp.com.au Phone: 02 8889 4072