Knowledge Translation for Pediatric Feeding and Swallowing

Holland Bloorview develops clinician Handbook to help kids facing feeding and swallowing issues

Eating and drinking are fundamental to a child’s health, independence, growth and dignity. However, for many kids with physical or developmental disabilities, eating and drinking present challenges. “Food touches every part of a child’s development,” explained Joanne Downing, the family representative on the Evidence to Care Feeding and Swallowing project. “It affects their nutrition, growth, family and social lives, as well as their self-confidence.”

Holland Bloorview has had a Feeding and Swallowing Team (F&S team) for many years. What makes it unique, relative to similar clinics, is the multidisciplinary team, which includes a physician, occupational therapist, speech language pathologist and a dietitian. Each discipline brings an essential set of skills and perspectives to the table. Together they provide a comprehensive set of best practice recommendations to help families, clinicians and other practitioners who are supporting kids with feeding and swallowing issues.

Evidence to Care turns best practices into an easy-to-use resource

A recent Holland Bloorview Evidence to Care (EtC) project builds on the clinical work of the F&S team to create an evidence-based clinician handbook for community practitioners. Under the leadership of the EtC team, a collaborative partnership was established with the F&S team, EtC knowledge translation specialists, a clinician scientist and a parent advisor to develop the handbook.

Together, the group used EtC’s knowledge translation lens to create an easy-to-use practical guide –Optimizing Feeding and Swallowing in Children with Physical and Developmental Disabilities. It’s a clinical resource to share best practices with clinicians, practitioners, and the broader health community. “Feeding and swallowing are complex,” Dr. Andrea Hoffman explained. “Clinicians don’t have a lot of extra time to review the literature. We aim to present the research, and our own experience, in a way that gives clinicians the best practices in an easy-to-read format.”

The Handbook takes a comprehensive approach to pediatric feeding and swallowing, looking at best practices in a wide range of areas including assessment of feeding and swallowing issues, addressing swallowing safety (e.g. minimizing the risk of aspiration), discussing nutrition and hydration management, and looking at feeding skill development.

Like other EtC initiatives, the Handbook is all about putting research into practice. It combines research evidence with experiential evidence to create a user-friendly resource to improve care for children with special needs. “We strive to help clinicians by integrating knowledge translation into every day practice,” said Dr. Shauna Kingsnorth, EtC leader. “The Feeding and Swallowing Handbook is a great example of taking Holland Bloorview’s expertise and collaborative approach, then sharing our insights with an external audience.” To date the Handbook has been downloaded 4155 times, helping clinicians across the world to address feeding and swallowing challenges!

Visit the landing page here to get your copy today.

“Food touches every part of a child’s development – their nutrition and growth, their family and social lives, as well as their self-confidence.”

– Joanne Downing, Family Representative

“Feeding and swallowing are complex, and clinicians don’t have alot of extra time to review the literature. We aim to present the research, andour own experience, in a way that gives clinicians the best practices in aneasy-to-read format.”

- Dr. Andrea Hoffman, Developmental Paediatrician