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by | Monday, December 6th, 2021 | News

Two Livewell speech and language therapists have been successful in their campaign to make a gold standard swallowing assessment available to inpatients dealing with an acute onset or progressive neurological impairment

The assessment, called Fibreoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallow, or FEES, is a test that allows a speech and language therapist to assess a patient’s swallow by passing a small flexible camera called a nasendoscope into one nostril. It aims to find out what difficulties they are having in swallowing by examining the throat in detail. Click here to view a video of the process.

The clinic launched briefly at Livewell in 2020 before the Covid-19 pandemic but unfortunately had to be paused due to its aerosol-inducing nature. The good news is that it’s back and helping improve the quality of life for hundreds of Plymouth patients.

Katie Lewis and Nicky Hawker, the speech and language therapists responsible for securing the funding for the procedure, said:

We would never have thought two speech and language therapists (SLT) from a small team in Plymouth would have managed to purchase £30,000 worth of equipment to set up a new service despite all the barriers we faced – including Covid!

“We are so lucky to have the training and support from our specialist colleagues in Torbay. We’re now looking forward to networking with other SLT teams looking to develop a FEES service and support each other in our clinical development”

Geoff Baines, Director of Safety and Quality and Deputy Chief Executive, added:

“Katie and Nicky begun their campaign to make FEES available at Livewell back in 2018 when they approached Dawn Slater, Director for People and Professionalism, for funding to get trained and to learn more about the procedure.

“I am so proud of them both for their continued dedication, professionalism, and foresight in helping to get this service to Livewell patients and I was delighted to be able to support their case for funding the equipment when the time came.

“This swallow assessment is empowering the people we care for, helping them to make informed decisions about their healthcare. There have been instances of people being able to return to a more normal diet after long spells of only being able to tolerate foods like yoghurt after these assessments, which is remarkable for their quality of life.”

You can find out more about the work of our speech and language therapists here.

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