Dysphagia Training for SLTs - Level 1

Estimated Duration: 
15 hours

This level 1 Dysphagia course will provide the knowledge you need to support your team in providing eating, drinking and swallowing services for children. This course is in additional to the awareness level training and builds on the information gained there. Throughout the course EDUCATION SLTs will refer to those SLTs employed by the Ministry of Education and HEALTH SLTs will refer to those SLTs employed by the Ministry of Health.

On completion of this course, you will acquire the following knowledge and skills:

  • An appreciation of the relevant information not detailed in the management plan and how this may impact on a students ability to participate in eating and drinking 
  • Being able to identify gaps in the information that may be needed to support student with dysphagia
  • Understanding of the component parts of the dysphagia management plan and the rationale for their use, timing and potential outcomes
  • Basic anatomy and physiology of swallowing and the development of feeding skills across childhood including health conditions which predispose a child to dysphagia and other risk factors
  • Basic assessment – when to consider referral for reassessment, instrumental assessment, how to interpret assessment and VFS reports
  • Intervention – Understanding SLT recommendations for intervention
  • Supporting family and school to implement recommendations 
  • Environmental considerations - understanding the environment is conducive to successful eating and drinking and should maintain the student’s dignity 
  • Understanding of the role of communication in successful eating and drinking – Following the child’s lead and communication cues/listening to the child enables monitoring of the intervention plan
  • Clinical decision making in a variety of settings e.g. when to go back to the Health SLT, when to seek multi-disciplinary team (MDT) support 
  • Managing ethical dilemmas (e.g. videofluoroscopy (VFS) refusal, family refuses access, staff change plan or don’t follow plan, parents and MDT disagree, conflict between clinical safety and quality of life, family refuse a PEG 
  • Team-working across Education and Health including joint sessions with SLTs, dieticians, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and school staff
  • Ensuring the student has the appropriate supports in place e.g. equipment, positioning, routine, textures and oral hygiene
  • Managing a feeding plan through a team e.g. nurses, teacher aides 
  • Feeding back to the Ministry of Health MDT, including identification of roles and scope of practice.


You are taking on additional training in the area of eating, drinking and swallowing. This is to empower and enable you to provide support and resources to your colleagues in this area of practice. This content has been devised to enable you to ensure all 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.


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  15 hours of CPD.


This content has been developed by Bianca Gordon and Speech Science at The University of Auckland.

The material is presented by the Goodfellow Unit. The Goodfellow Unit (GFU) is 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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