Swallowing Awareness Day celebrated at Blacktown and Mount Druitt Hospitals

Blacktown Hospital Speech Pathologists and Delirium Awareness staff.

Blacktown and Mount Druitt Hospitals (BMDH) have celebrated ‘Swallowing Awareness Day’ with a day of cupcakes and education sessions, as Speech Pathologists from Blacktown Hospital chatted with community members and staff about their experiences.

BMDH Allied Health Director Chris Horley said speech pathologists are professionals who work with people who are having difficulty swallowing especially when eating and drinking. This is called dysphagia (pronounced dis-fay-juh). 

“A person uses 26 muscles each time they swallow, and swallow at least 700 times each day,” Chris said.

“More than 50 per cent of people who are acutely unwell and over 65 years will experience dysphagia during their hospital admission.

“100 per cent of people who have dementia will experience a swallow difficulty at some point in their disease progression.”

Speech Pathologists work with and support patients and carers to reduce the dysphagic risk of aspiration (when food/drink enters the airway). This is achieved by using strategies such as modified diet and thickened fluids or positioning/behavioural techniques to reduce the risk of aspiration.

By helping people to eat and drink safely, we can reduce the risk of complications such as aspiration pneumonia, dehydration, malnutrition and improve a person’s quality of life.