Dysphagia - public information

Swallow Aware

What is Dysphagia?

Dysphagia describes eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties in infants, children and adults.

People with dysphagia often have other health conditions that they are being treated for, which can affect their eating, drinking and swallowing abilities (RCSLT 2023)


Signs, symptoms and advice

Eating, drinking and swallowing service user/carer newsletter


Dysphagia NI has worked in partnership with the Clinical Education Centre to develop a Universal Swallow Awareness training package which aims to

  • Describe what eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties mean, and their associated health risks.   
  • Identify possible signs of eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties. 
  • Explain how to support people with eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties. 
  • Discuss eating, drinking and swallowing safety and awareness.  
  • Recognise if someone is choking.

The training would be useful for people who are experiencing eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties, their families, healthcare staff who are not directly involved in the preparing food, serving food or assisting someone with dysphagia to eat and drink and the general public

Non-HSC Universal Swallow Awareness - Overview (hscni.net)

Healthcare professionals who are directly involved in the involved in the preparing food, serving food or assisting someone with dysphagia to eat and drink should access a targeted training programme which is available on LearnHSCNI Platform


Oral care


Nutrition and hydration

Food and drink modifications

Mealtimes matter

Mealtimes Matter is a regionally agreed framework to maximise service user safety and ensure a high-quality experience always occurs at every meal, drink and snack time.

Hospitality (Eating out)

Swallow aware factsheet (A4 poster) - this factsheet aims to improve the experience for customers with swallowing difficulties (dysphagia) by providing top tips for hospitality

Dysphagia awareness wallet card - A wallet card has been produced for people living with dysphagia to use when they are eating out in restaurants, cafes and bars.  The wallet card can be requested from your Speech and Language Therapist or by contacting dysphagiani@hscni.net



End of life care

Safety advice

Swallow Aware campaign

The Swallow Aware Campaign seeks to adopt a regional approach to -

1. Raise awareness of:

  • the signs and symptoms of dysphagia
  • the risks associated with dysphagia
  • how and when to get a referral for specialist swallowing assessment by Speech and Language Therapy
  • how to support someone living with dysphagia

2. Listen to understand the lived experience of people living with dysphagia and their families / carers and engage them in the work taken forward as part of the Swallow Aware campaign.  This will include building relationship with community and voluntary sector organisations.

3. Working in partnership with the hospitality industry to provide information to restaurants / bars and other food and drink outlets on how to help support people living with dysphagia.

How to get involved

If you have experienced swallowing difficulties or are a carer with experience in helping those with swallowing difficulties we would like to hear from you. Please click on the links below to find out more.

Useful links