Wednesday 20 February 2019 – Lunchtime seminar with Professor Alaster Yoxall (Professor of Packaging Ergonomics)

Images for Professor Alaster Yoxall's C3RI Research Seminar - courtesy of Alaster Yoxall

Speaker: Professor Alaster Yoxall (Professor of Packaging Ergonomics)
Title: Designing a tool for determining the thickness of fluids for patients with dysphagia using a mixed-methods approach

Between 50 and 75% of residents in nursing homes have swallowing difficulties. For frail older adults difficulties with eating and drinking can be life threatening and possibly result in pneumonia, the second most common (and serious) infection found in nursing home residents. When individuals experience swallowing difficulties it is often recommended that they have their drinks thickened by adding a thickening powder. When someone is given this recommendation, all their drinks must be thickened to the correct consistency to improve the safety of their swallowing.

The information on consistency is explained to the individual and carers so that each drink that the person is given is thickened correctly. Despite this information-sharing process, recommendations and guidelines for thickening fluids in care settings are often imprecise, with only brief written instructions provided. Crucially, these are often not accurately followed by the people who prepare the drinks and a key factor has been found to be that carers and health care staff who have to thicken the fluids are often unsure how to make the correct consistency.

Descriptors have been developed to aid with creating consistent thicknesses. However, it is hypothesised that the proposed test using a 10ml syringe is both impractical for most ‘real world’ settings and is unlikely to be used in practical settings.

This study proposes to develop an easy to use, reliable, cheap and valid test to facilitate the consistent production of thickened fluids by residents, their carer’s and healthcare professionals on each occasion a drink is made for the resident throughout the day. The study uses a range of techniques to design this test including the creation of ‘virtual test fluids, observation, interview and co-design. The presentation talks about the problem, and the work done to date and the proposed steps for development.

1.00PM – 2.00PM
CANTOR 9020a

Professor Alaster Yoxall is a Professor of Packaging Ergonomics at the Art & Design Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University.