WORKFORCE: Care home nurses in Derbyshire are to receive specialist training in helping older patients in care homes with feeding or swallowing difficulties.

Under the scheme, nurses will be trained by Derbyshire Community Health speech and language therapists to better identify and manage patients with dysphagia, who often develop chest problems when lungs and airways become infected through incompetent swallowing or feeding, resulting in emergency hospital admissions.

The Derbyshire Community Health initiative is one of 14 national schemes being funded through the Health Foundation’s Shine Award programme.Initially therapists aim to recruit 10 care homes in Derby City, South Derbyshire and Amber Valley to pilot the project.

Nurses from each care home will be invited to attend a two-day training course and be guided through a decision-making tool relating to dysphagia.

The £57,000 project will run until January 2012. In addition to training nurses, all care home staff will receive awareness training. 

There were 119 hospital admissions because of “aspiration pneumonia” –where the lungs and airways become inflamed because of incompetent swallowing – in Derbyshire County during 2009-10, at a total cost of £482,326.