Dysphagia Training for SLT's - Awareness Level

Estimated Duration: 
2 hours

Welcome to this dysphagia awareness course which has been designed for Speech-language therapists working within the Ministry of Education. There are two levels of online learning available; this module which overviews fundamental principles and practicalities of working with children with dysphagia; and Level 1 which offers advanced knowledge and practices. 

Throughout this course EDUCATION SLTs refers to those SLTs employed by the Ministry of Education and HEALTH SLTs refers to those SLTs employed by the Ministry of Health.

On completion of this course at Awareness Level, you will acquire the following knowledge:

  • Basic information regarding the normal swallow;
  • Basic information regarding the chronic and acute signs of aspiration;
  • Basic information regarding the risks of aspiration of food and drink and how it may compromise the student’s respiratory, hydration and nutritional status;
  • Basic information regarding the physical emotional and psychological impact of swallowing and feeding difficulties on the student and carers, including the impact on learning and access to education;
  • Basic information about the ethical and medico-legal dilemmas that may occur with students with feeding/ swallowing difficulties;
  • Ensuring the optimum feeding environment for a student;
  • Liaising with school, family and health professionals regarding a change in the students presentation and if an adverse situation occurs;
  • Information regarding the supports in place within the MOE and the referral procedures for further external support for a student;
  • How to seek support if there is a change in the student’s presentation;
  • Working with the appropriate Health SLT to identify the effectiveness of the dysphagia management plan and recording areas of progress and specific difficulties arising in order to assist the review process.


This content has been devised to ensure Education SLTs are able to provide the following services as laid out in the joint Operational Protocol:

  • Monitor and support the implementation of the Eating, Drinking and Swallowing Plan in an educational context
  • Provide advice and guidance to educational facilities to ensure implementation of Eating, Drinking and Swallowing Plans
  • Liaise with and refer to Child Development Services or Child Health Services (as relevant) where a referral or review is required
  • Support Health SLTs to develop an Eating, Drinking and Swallowing Plan.

The course is organised around six content modules:

  1. Swallowing Safety, Efficiency and Risk management
  2. Biomechanics of Swallowing
  3. Clinical Assessment
  4. Instrumental Assessment
  5. Management and Intervention
  6. Planning


Following the course you will find a short quiz designed to help consolidate your learning. When you complete the quiz please hit the 'submit' button to receive your certificate. This course provides 2 hours of CPD. 


This content has been developed by Bianca Jackson and Speech Science at The University of Auckland. Speech Science is located within the School of Psychology, with the Faculty of Science. The course was updated in May 2018.

The material is presented by the Goodfellow Unit (GFU),  an accredited continuing medical education/ continuing professional development (CME/CPD) provider for the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners and functions under a tripartite agreement between the Goodfellow Foundation, the College and the University of Auckland. The Unit is located within the Department of General Practice and Primary Health Care, and within the School of Population Health, one of the five Schools within the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences.


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