Speech-language pathologists (SLP) in long -term care work closely with other health professionals as part of the resident’s care team. The role of the SLP in long-term care is primarily related to assessing swallowing abilities and providing recommendations to promote safe eating and drinking.
The SLP can monitor changes in swallowing function and modify treatment plans that may aim to:
- maintain pleasure while eating and drinking;
- reduce the risk of choking and respiratory complications related to aspiration;
- promote regular oral care to reduce discomfort and risk of illness; and
- respect and support patient or client choices related to hydration and nutrition.
As well, SLPs can address issues related to communication difficulties such as challenges understanding language or trouble with speaking, however priority is given to residents experiencing swallowing difficulties. Residents do have the option of being referred for outpatient SLP services for communication or swallowing if these services are unavailable at the facility where they reside.
A referral to a SLP can be made by any member of a resident’s care team.