The UK’s leading provider of Softer Foods ready meals, Wiltshire Farm Foods (@wiltsfarmfoods), is equipping healthcare professionals of the future with a series of dysphagia awareness training programmes, specifically designed for students, at a selection of universities and colleges. All sessions are being conducted virtually, in keeping with Covid restrictions under the current lockdown.
Having previously visited universities in person to carry out the training to groups of students, the company wanted to continue the momentum of the programme by taking the initiative of conducting them virtually.
Wiltshire Farm Foods’ company dietitian, Emily Stuart, hosted the first of several trainings with undergraduate dietitians at Hertfordshire University last month: providing insight on the issue of swallowing difficulties – also known as dysphagia - and its associated risks. The sessions were brought alive through a combination of academic, social and practical elements.
When it comes to engaging dietitians of the future about dysphagia, Emily says that this training will not only give students a broader understanding of this specialist subject, it will also prepare them in meeting the often-complex needs of their future patients:
“We’ve had a really positive response to our virtual trainings this year. University lecturers have welcomed the opportunity to enrich course content and engage students with additional curriculum material. As well as reviewing the social issues that people with dysphagia can face, we discuss the importance of safety precautions when using appropriate utensils, sitting position and posture, along with the national descriptors for texture modified meals.”
The fully comprehensive hour-long webinar also includes a practical element called ‘Ready, Steady, Blend’, where students are tasked with making a standard Wiltshire Farm Foods Roast Beef meal suitable for someone following a IDDSI Level 4 diet, to eat, using a blender at home. This task, designed to enhance the students’ future clinical practice, highlighted how difficult it can be to make a meal safe for those with swallowing difficulties, the importance of aesthetics and other issues presented to carers.
Committed to creating meals as delicious as they are visually appealing, Wiltshire Farm Foods understands how the aesthetic appeal of a plate of food can impact the appetite. The company has developed an award-winning range of texture modified meals which aim to provide customers with the ability to eat independently, as well as ensuring dignity in dining, something which the team is passionate about.
Jenny Waterfield, Healthcare Professional and Softer Foods Marketing Manager, is confident the training will prepare dietitians of the future as they embark on their professional careers:
“We have worked with a number of universities to ensure that our training module adds real value to those who are training to the healthcare professionals of the future at a time when remote learning is at the forefront of all academic routes.
“Having engaged with a number of healthcare professionals, we understand the importance of the ‘hospital to home’ journey; ensuring patients receive adequate nutrition once discharged is crucial.
“Complications such as dysphagia often present a barrier to eating well and safely, so the more we can educate undergraduate dietitians about these issues, the more prepared they will be when it comes to assessing the needs of their patients. We’re looking forward to conducting more trainings during the year ahead - hopefully not all of them will be delivered in a virtual capacity!”
The next virtual training session is with the University of Surrey, with a selection of Nutrition and Dietetics undergraduates. For more information on Wiltshire Farm Foods’ dysphagia awareness training programme and how it can benefit and enrich your students’ learning, click here.