Speech & Language CPD

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Working with adults with acquired dysphagia

Course unit fact file
Unit code HCDI93620
Credit rating 0
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Full year
Available as a free choice unit? No


This distance learning CPD unit is accessed over 20 weeks and provides newly qualified SLTs or those returning to practice with the knowledge and understanding required to work with adults with acquired dysphagia.  Other health professionals who are required to independently manage adults with dysphagia and who have access to an on-site supervisor, can also enrol on this course unit. 

The RSCLT Dysphagia Training and Competency Framework (2014) is the SLT profession-specific guidelines which provide specific competencies in dysphagia at Levels A, B and C, where C enables the dysphagia practitioner to independently manage a patient with ‘bedside’ assessment of swallowing.  The unit is delivered over 20 parts, which progress through levels A to C and address specific aspects of dysphagia management, such as the anatomy and physiology of swallowing, record keeping and different aetiologies of dysphagia.  The student must have access to an ‘on-site supervisor’ who specialises in working with adults with dysphagia in order to sign off practical competencies.  This CPD unit guides the student through these competencies by providing the latest evidence based theoretical perspectives as well as directing the student to practical tasks in order to progress their learning.  For example, a student will complete eLearning on the cranial nerves involved in swallowing and then be directed to carrying out oro-motor assessments with their on-site supervisor in the workplace. 

The course unit is composed of narrated presentations, videos of patients with dysphagia and health professionals, formative quizzes, discussion forums and learning journal tasks, which work through the theoretical knowledge required for Levels A, B and C.


The unit aims to:

  • Provide students with opportunities to gain the knowledge required for Level C dysphagia practitioner status, as per the RCSLT Dysphagia Training and Competency Framework (2014).
  • Provide students with opportunities to understand the complexities of dysphagia management required at Level C dysphagia practitioner status and implement this understanding in their workplace.
  • Provide students with a variety of opportunities to critically reflect on their practical dysphagia management skills and their theoretical knowledge of dysphagia.

Teaching and learning methods

Learning and teaching processes will primarily involve accessing eLearning resources and online support from the course tutor.  The eLearning content is based around three aspects of delivery:

1. Presentation of the content, including narrated presentations, text to read, images and diagrams, and video footage of both patients and professionals.

2. Interactive content including quizzes, case studies and matching activities.

3. Collaborative tasks. These include ‘Learning Journal Tasks’ which allow the student to access an online space where they can make a record of their reflections and findings and ‘Discussions’, which involve asking students to contribute to an online discussion forum, moderated by the online tutor.

At the end of each part of the unit, there is a formative quiz to check on the student’s understanding of knowledge and theory, which must be passed before progressing to the next part of the unit.  This unit does not assess the ‘practical competencies’ required for dysphagia management, although directed learning journal tasks and the teaching of the theoretical knowledge underpinning these tasks aim to offer the student opportunities to complete these in their workplace. 

Knowledge and understanding

  • Demonstrate a systematic and critical understanding of dysphagia, including aetiology, symptoms of onset, neuroanatomy and broader health and social implications.
  • Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of dysphagia management, including the application of ethics in dysphagia management.

Intellectual skills

  • Critically evaluate aspects of current research/theory in the field, demonstrating a systematic understanding of new insights and current problems, and how this influences analyses and interpretations based on that knowledge.
  • Deal with the complexity of factors involved in decision making in dysphagia management, and demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of their personal responsibility in this role. 
  • Demonstrate self-direction and originality, making use of their comprehensive understanding to develop decision making skills in dysphagia to a professional level.

Practical skills

  • Demonstrate conceptual understanding of dysphagia which enables the student to evaluate assessment methods and develop critiques of them.
  • Perform structured observation and critically evaluate assessments of clients with dysphagia and make sound judgements in the absence of complete data.
  • Deal with complex issues in case studies of clients with dysphagia and communicate their conclusions clearly to specialist and non-specialist audiences.
  • Continue to advance their knowledge and understanding using self-directed learning in dysphagia management. 

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Effectively and clearly communicate management plans and management decisions to specialist and non-specialist audiences, including other health professionals, patients and carers.
  • Critically evaluate their own judgements in dysphagia management, identifying strengths and making constructive suggestions for improvement where appropriate.
  • Critically evaluate their own values and attitudes to service users and exercise a compassionate and respectful approach to practice.
  • Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the independent learning ability required for continuing professional development.

Feedback methods

Throughout the unit, students will have the opportunity to engage in discussions, learning journal tasks and formative activities to check their level of understanding. Additional on-line quizzes will provide students with the opportunity to check whether they have achieved the theoretical learning for each part of the unit. On successful completion of the unit, students who have passed the formative quizzes and engaged in the discussion board tasks will receive a certificate.

Recommended reading

Cichero, J. & Murdoch, B. (2006). Dysphagia: Foundation, Theory and Practice, Chichester: Wiley

Ekberg, O. (2011).  Dysphagia: Diagnosis and Treatment.  Berlin: Springer.

Groher, M. & Crary, M. A. (2006). Dysphagia: Clinical Management in Adults and Children.  St

Louis: Elsevier. 

RSCLT Dysphagia Training and Competency Framework (2014)

Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 150

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Rachel Purcell Unit coordinator

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