Development and Evaluation of Online Dysphagia Management Training for Nursing Staff

Ms Felicity Purbrick1, Ms Mirosha Manoharan1, Ms Lydia  Cvejic1, Ms. Zaneta Mok1

1Alfred Health, Melbourne, Australia

Background: While dysphagia management is often associated with speech pathologists, nursing staff have important roles in the implementation of dysphagia management and speech pathology recommendations.

Dysphagia education is required so that nursing staff can identify swallowing difficulties, make appropriate referrals to speech pathology and provide care support during mealtimes. An online learning package provides flexibility in delivery in place and time.

Aim of the project: The objective of this implementation project was to develop an online dysphagia management training package for nurses, with the aims to evaluate changes in nursing staff confidence in dysphagia management and the proportion of appropriate referrals to speech pathology.

Methods: This project followed a PDSA quality improvement cycle. The learning package was developed based on speech pathology and nursing feedback and trialled with a pilot group of nurses. The final training package will be completed by all nursing staff in a Melbourne metropolitan hospital and evaluated using pre and post survey of nursing staff confidence in dysphagia management, and pre and post 3 months training audit of the appropriateness of dysphagia referrals

Results: Preliminary results suggest an improvement in the confidence of nurses in dysphagia management. A preliminary sample audit of referrals during design phase indicates that 20% of referrals from nursing staff to speech pathology for dysphagia were inappropriate or lacked sufficient information. The final results will be presented at the conference.

Conclusion: We anticipate greater access to training, improved quality of speech pathology referrals and increased nursing confidence in dysphagia management, following the training roll-out.

Acknowledgements: Christina Cirnigliano, Rod Sturt, Jacinta Lasky


Felicity, Mirosha and Lydia are Speech Pathologists working across Alfred, Caulfield and Sandringham sites at Alfred Health. Our experience encompasses the continuum of care across acute to subacute settings.

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