Continuing professional development is a requirement for all speech and language therapists. Find out more
Here you will find resources to help you to continually improve your skills and expand your knowledge.
- Acquired motor speech disorders
- Brain injury
- Cleft lip and palate
- Critical care
- Head and neck cancer
- Learning disabilities
- Motor disorders
- Neonatal care
- Progressive neurological disorders
- Respiratory care (adults)
Please note: The resources on this page are provided for informational purposes only. No endorsement is expressed or implied, and while we make every effort to ensure this page is up to date and relevant, we cannot take responsibility for pages maintained by external providers.
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RCSLT competency frameworks for eating, drinking and swallowing
RCSLT Dysphagia Training & Competency Framework
The RCSLT Dysphagia Training & Competency Framework is a UK-wide document for all RCSLT members who work with people with dysphagia. It is relevant to all presentations of dysphagia and covers all the common conditions of which dysphagia is a symptom.
The framework includes:
- The RCSLT’s vision for dysphagia training and competency development
- Issues for consideration
- Curriculum guidelines to standardise the knowledge gained by students on pre-registration courses
- A competency framework to allow members to demonstrate their level of competence and identify areas for development at any point in their career
Download it either as a Word document or a pdf:
A number of resources are available to support members to use the framework:
- Quick visual guide to the what, when, who, why and how of the RCSLT Training & Competency Framework.
Case study evaluations – developed by Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust. These documents can be adapted to suit the needs of individual services.
Records of direct activity and related study – developed by University of St Mark & St John, Plymouth.
RCSLT FEES competency framework and training logs
Download it either as a Word document or a PDF:
Eating, Drinking and Swallowing Competency Framework
This framework is not intended for qualified SLTs and we recommend members use the RCSLT Dysphagia Training & Competency Framework.
The Eating, Drinking and Swallowing Competency Framework (EDSCF) is an assessable competency framework aimed at carers and other professionals rather than SLTs working with people with dysphagia.
About the framework
It informs strategies for developing the skills, knowledge, confidence and ability of individuals to contribute more effectively in the identification of people with, and in the management of dysphagia. It can be applied to all client groups and age groups in a variety of locations across the UK.
The framework provides an update to the Interprofessional Dysphagia Framework (IDF), first published in 2006. This update, funded by Health Education England, responds to the significant changes to the healthcare system with: an increase in the number of referrals for dysphagia; SLTs moving to a more consultative role within the healthcare team and a recognition that dysphagia is a significant corollary of other medical conditions, eg head and neck cancer and at the end of life. This requires the wider healthcare team to develop expertise in the management of dysphagia particularly as an individual’s difficulties may alter over a 24-hour period.
The framework has been developed by an iterative process of inter-collegiate consultation with dysphagia experts, the private and voluntary healthcare sectors, and the wider profession.
The updated framework seeks to:
- provide the flexibility that meets the needs of different working environments, e.g. community, hospitals, schools, hospice and care homes, enabling individuals to apply guidance for managing stretched services.
- set out the knowledge and skills needed to screen, assess, support and refer for further assessment to support patients with eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties
- define the levels of decision making to promote consistency in the approach to eating, drinking and swallowing management and thereby improve standards of care
- offer direction to individual training establishments to identify what training would be appropriate for practitioners at each level.
This framework identifies six levels of decision making and identifies competencies that are requisite to each member of the team, acknowledging the role of the specialist carer who may have considerable knowledge regarding the individual with eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties. The levels include competencies specific to dysphagia that can be cross-referenced with those of the dysphagia competencies from Skills for Care and the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists.
The RCSLT is grateful to our speech and language therapy experts (both lead and supporting authors) for their time and leadership informing the development of this framework: Dr Elizabeth Boaden; Dr Sue Pownall; Dr Hannah Crawford; Catherine Donnelly; Dr Alison Stroud; Tracy Lazenby-Paterson.
Download the framework
Download the different levels separately:
- Level 1: Public Health Messages, Awareness
- Level 2: Care Plan Implementation
- Level 3: Identification and Implementation of an interim eating and drinking plan
- Level 4: Protocol-Guided Assessment and Management
- Level 5: Specialist Assessment and Management
- Level 6: Consultant Assessment and Management
The resource, which was co-developed with care home staff and is relevant to others in the health and care workforce, informal carers and people with dysphagia themselves, can be used to support people working in care to gain the relevant level of competency for their role as outlined in the Eating, Drinking and Swallowing Competency Framework. This resource is also a useful guide for managers in policy and workforce development.
The Dysphagia Guide eLearning resource, which has been adapted by HEE e-LfH, is made up of five sessions that cover the following topics:
- Quality and Safety
- Training and Resources
For more information about the e-learning resource, including access details, please click here.
Other competency frameworks
- VFS competencies Adult Level 1 Training programme*
- VFS competencies Adult Level 2 Training programme*
- VFS competencies Adult Level 3 Functions*
- VFS competencies Adult Level 4 Functions*
- VFS competencies Paediatric Aloysius A and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust (ICHNT) (2008). VFS Competencies – paediatric.
For more information please contact us.
Read Jodi Allen’s article Outcome measures in acute dysphagia published in the Bulletin, December 2015, pp 16-17.
Read Jodi Allen and Pam Enderby’s article Outcome measures in acute dysphagia published in the Bulletin, February 2016, p 19.
Read Judith Anderson’s article Feeding at risk: targeting areas of improvement published in the Bulletin, December 2014, pp 16-17.
Read Elizabeth Boaden and colleagues’ article Distance is no longer an object published in the Bulletin, August 2014, pp 12-14.
Read Laura Eagar’s article The need for dementia care training published in the Bulletin, November 2014, pp 18-19.
Read Laura Gratton and colleagues’ article On the fast track – a new route to dysphagia competency? published in the Bulletin, May 2014, pp 12-14.
Read Susan Guthrie and colleagues’ article Implementing competency development in dysphagia published in the Bulletin, April 2016, pp 18-19.
Read Pippa Hales and Corinne Mossey-Gaston’s article Bidding for change: a new FEES service published in the Bulletin, November 2015, pp 20-21.
Read Dharinee Hansjee’s article Risk feeding: the story continues published in the Bulletin, September 2015, pp 16-17.
Read Jeni Husak’s article A refreshing experience published in the Bulletin, June 2016, pp 12-15.
Read Tracy Lazenby-Paterson’s Ask the Experts article Aspiration and pneumonia: what is the risk of SLT intervention? published in the Bulletin, May 2016, pp 24-25.
Read George London and colleagues’ article Swallowing matters: a new resource to support self-management published in the Bulletin, August 2014, p 19.
Read Sophie MacKenzie and colleagues’ article The new RCSLT dysphagia training and competency framework published in the Bulletin, March 2015, pp 12-15.
Read Becky Potter and colleagues’ article Identifying the silent majority published in the Bulletin, April 2015, pp 18-19.
Read Erin Probert and Clare Fundell’s article Reducing risk and promoting mealtime independence published in the Bulletin, January 2015, p 20.
Read Amy Schiwitz and Anita Smith’s article Shaken and stirred published in the Bulletin, March 2016, pp 16-17.
Read Helen Webber and Mark Jayes’ article Outcomes measures: behind the numbers published in the Bulletin, December 2015, pp 18-19.
Read Nicola Whiteway’s article Breathing space published in the Bulletin, February 2016, p 21.
Equality Impact Assessment for Dysphagia Policy (pages 7-8), Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS – The checklist helps to identify strengths and/or highlight improvements required to ensure the policy/procedure is compliant with equality legislation.
Dysphagia eLearning – from BAPEN (a Charitable Association that raises awareness of malnutrition and works to advance the nutritional care of patients and those at risk from malnutrition in the wider community).
National Skills Academy for Health (formerly the NHS Core Learning Unit) – membership organisation with elearning resources for members, including a dysphagia tutorial (more information in this brochure).
Non-SLT Competencies and Training
Skills for Health aim to help the whole UK health sector develop a more skilled and flexible workforce. Their website contains a list of shared competences relevant to a subset of Allied Health Professionals, which includes ‘Assist others to monitor individuals’ attempts at managing dysphagia’ and ‘Provide support to individuals to develop their skills in managing dysphagia’.
Stars 2: Stroke Advancing Modules, No. 3: Feeding, hydration and nutrition following a stroke – This module gives a critical understanding of the importance of achieving a patient’s optimal nutritional status to support their recovery following stroke, addressing the challenges of patients with dysphagia.
Making Dysphagia Easier to Swallow – NHS Education For Scotland A learning resource for individuals with dysphagia, their families and their carers to help them to understand how to follow the advice they have been given to create the consistency of texture in food and drink that is best for them. Features film clips from Dysphagia DVD – includes interviews with therapists and carers, as well as demonstrations of food and drink preparation for people with dysphagia.
Dysphagia Screening Community, Stroke Shared Space, NHS Scotland – Enables users to share local and personal knowledge; work collaboratively; share dialogue and interpretation; seek and give advice on questions of common interest; keep up-to-date with developments, and build community websites/community elearning environments. Users must have an NHS Scotland eLibrary login or register for one.
RCSLT mouth care guidance – best practice guidelines for SLTs delivering mouth care and collection of useful resources
Risk feeding: The story continues – Bulletin September 2015 pp: 16 – 17 – Dharinee Hansjee discusses the review of her risk feeding protocols and processes.
Dysphagia: A safer approach to risk feeding – Bulletin February 2013 – Dharinee Hansjee examines the development of a multidisciplinary protocol to assist with risk feeding.
The Dysphagia Game – Designed to help frontline healthcare staff identify and manage dysphagia more effectively, endorsed by RCSLT.
NHS Choices information on Dysphagia* – Overview of causes, diagnosis, treatment and complications; map of medicine; and clinical trials.
Medicines Optimisation in Patients With Dysphagia Keele University 2012 – A comprehensive online resource for healthcare professionals caring for patients with dysphagia. It encompasses all aspects of medicines use, from prescription to the ways in which medicines are taken or not taken by patients.
Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland – a central resource to seek information about many of the issues relevant to dysphagia patients, e.g. Adults with Incapacity (AWI) Act, Case studies, Guidelines, Consent to treatment and investigative reports.
Swallowing and Feeding Disorders – Policy documents from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).
Swallowing Problems (Dysphagia) After Head & Neck Cancer – Guidance from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).
NHS Health Check Ready Reckoner Tools – Ready Reckoner Tools help health and social care commissioners, providers, elected members, local government officers and academics to provide a snapshot of the potential cost and savings that can be made by NHS Health Checks.
Dietician’s Dysphagia Calculator – This online spreadsheet calculates dysphagia menus and lets a dietician input food choices to achieve a required nutrient balance, kcal and fluid volume and tracks protein, carbohydrate, fat, Kcal and ml.
South Yorkshire Dysphagia Toolkit – a compendium of practical resources for anyone with an interest in swallowing problems (dysphagia).
Campaigning to raise awareness
Swallowing Awareness Day 2019: 13 March