Hazel Warren, CityCare’s Speech and Language Therapist volunteered as a case reviewer for the National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death (NCEPOD) on a study ‘Hard to Swallow? A review of the quality of dysphagia care provided to patients with Parkinson’s disease aged 16 years and over who were admitted to hospital when acutely unwell.’ 

NCEPOD is an independent body whose purpose is to “maintain and improve standards of care for adults and children for the benefit of the public by reviewing the management of patients, by undertaking confidential surveys and research.”

The working group reviewed the quality of dysphagia care provided to adult patients with Parkinson’s Disease who were admitted to the hospital when acutely unwell.

Hazel has always had an interest in clinical research. Having worked at CityCare since 2014 in the Speech and Language Therapy team and the Community Stroke Team, Hazel was supported to gain the Bronze Scholar Award in Research Methods in Health in 2018 (funded by Health Education East Midlands). Following this, she presented at the RCSLT (Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists) Research Champions conference and presented a poster at the RCSLT national conference (2018). She continues to serve as a “Research Champion” in her team. 

Taking the opportunity to be involved in this large research study allowed Hazel to remain clinically active, working with mixed caseloads of adults with acquired communication and swallowing needs, whilst gaining research experience and insight. 

The study involved 283 separate hospital sites across the UK. 878 cases were selected, 505 clinician questionnaires were returned, and 344 case notes were reviewed. Key findings showed that 30% of patients with Parkinson’s had dysphagia on admission to the hospital. 

Recommendations were made around screening, documenting, making appropriate referrals to SLT and other members of the MDT, communication with specialist PD services, community teams and on discharge handing over information to the patient, care providers and family members.

Reflecting on the outcome of the study, Hazel said: “It was so interesting to be involved in this large research study. The report provides really clear recommendations and highlights examples of good practice as well as areas for improvement. Many of the headline recommendations are around communication – either between hospital and community teams, within hospitals pathways, timely MDT referrals or handovers on discharge. Good communication and good documentation are vital for good care. “

You can read the full study here

Date published: 19 January 2022