I Can, Take Charge of My Health Education Day: Dysphagia, safe feeding practices


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beans-598185_640Dysphagia is the medical term for difficulty or discomfort swallowing when described as a symptom of a disorder. Our Winnipeg office held an education day, and Patrick  Tremblay-Sabourin, RD presented on the topic of dysphagia. Here is an excerpt from his presentation handout on safe feeding practices:

Before the Meal 

  • Do not provide individual with any food or liquid that is not compliant with their diet texture
  • Ensure individual has all adaptive equipment that they might need.
  • Ensure proper positioning: sitting upright with feet and head well supported.
  • The caregiver should be at eye level with the individual, facing in front of, or along side of the individual. Know the individual and use whichever position works best for both the caregiver and individual.

During the Meal

  • Provide assistance only when necessary. Assistance may vary depending on the needs of the individual.
  • Environment: Limit distractions- loud noisy dining room may cause agitation/distractions.
  • Use teaspoon-sized amounts. Watch for movement in the Adam’s apple. Make sure that the individual has swallowed before giving the next portion.
  • Avoid mixing foods together (unless requested by individual).
  • Encourage individual to close lips around teaspoon. Do not scrape food from the spoon with individual’s teeth.
  • Make the meal a sociable experience.
  • Encourage individual to clear throat, swallow again if voice is gurgly or wet sounding

After the Meal

  • Do not leave individual with food in the mouth
  • Allow the individual to remain upright for 30-90 minutes after eating and drinking.
  • Complete or ensure proper oral hygiene is completed after each meal/snack.

Oral Hygiene and Dysphagia

  • Oral hygiene effects function, safety, comfort and quality of life
  • There are clear links between poor oral hygiene and aspiration pneumonia
  • The teeth are the only non-sloughing area of the body; if the teeth and oral cavity are not cleared of the bacteria and debris the individual is at a higher risk of aspiration pneumonia


If you live in Manitoba, you can contact Patrick Tremblay-Sabourin, RD at (204)-963-3151 or

If you live in another region, please contact your local services team.

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