Oropharyngeal dysphagia among patients newly discharged to nursing home care after an episode of hospital care



Oropharyngeal dysphagia (OPD) is a common but under-recognized problem among older residents in nursing homes. If not detected and properly managed, it is a risk factor for failure to thrive and aspiration pneumonia. Discharge to nursing home from hospital may provide an opportunity for detection and subsequent management.


To assess the extent of transfer of communication of swallow disorders in patients newly discharged to nursing homes from a university teaching hospital and catalogue recommendations suggested at discharge.


University teaching hospital


Speech and language therapy (SLT) consultation notes of referrals from 100 consecutive patients discharged to nursing homes for the first time are reviewed for presence of a swallow disorder. The discharge documentation was then assessed to determine transfer recommendations for management of swallow disorders.


Fifty-three patients had been referred to SLT for suspected OPD during hospitalization. At time of discharge, 35 (35%) continued to present with OPD and swallow recommendations were made as part of the management plan. An SLT report was transmitted to the nursing home in 80% of these cases.


OPD is present at discharge in over one-third of patients newly discharged to nursing home following a hospital admission, and this may be an under-estimate. This is significant in terms of planning of future care of management in nursing homes. It is important that the syndrome is duly noted in transfer documentation and that appropriate multi-disciplinary support arranged for residents in nursing homes with OPD.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. 1.

    McCartan D, Briggs R, Kennelly S, Coughlan T, Collins R, O’Neill D (2017) Systematic review of the prevalence of oropharyngeal dysphagia in the nursing home population. Age Ageing 46(Suppl 3):iii13–iii59

    Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Eisenstadt ES (2010) Dysphagia and aspiration pneumonia in older adults. J Am Acad Nurse Pract 22:17–22

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Edahiro A, Hirano H, Yamada R, Chiba Y, Watanabe Y, Tonogi M, Yamane GY (2012) Factors affecting independence in eating among elderly with Alzheimer’s disease. Geriatr Gerontol Int 12:481–490

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Robinson DJ, Jerrard-Dunne P, Greene Z, Lawson S, Lane S, O’Neill D (2011) Oropharyngeal dysphagia in exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Eur Geriatr Med 2:201–203

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Farrell Z, O’Neill D (1999) Towards better screening and assessment of oropharyngeal swallow disorders in the general hospital. Lancet 354:355–356

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust (2014) Management of Oro-pharyngeal Dysphagia In Adults Policy. Truro, Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust

  7. 7.

    Briggs R, Holmerová I, Martin FC, O’Neill D (2015) Towards standards of medical care for physicians in nursing homes. BMC Geriatr 6(4):401–403

    Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Cowman S, Royston M, Hickey A, Horgan F, McGee H, O’Neill D (2010) Stroke and nursing home care: a national survey of nursing homes. BMC Geriatr 10:4

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Desmond O’Neill.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Additional information

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Key points

• Aim: To investigate whether diagnosis of oropharyngeal dysphagia in nursing home residents newly admitted from hospital is appropriately communicated through assessment in the hospital.

• Findings: One-third of patients admitted to nursing home for the first time from hospital were affected by oropharyngeal dysphagia at the time of transfer. A speech and language therapy report was not transmitted to the nursing home in 20% of these cases.

• Message: Assessment prior to a new discharge to nursing home from hospital provides an important opportunity for diagnosis and treatment recommendations for nursing home residents with oropharyngeal dysphagia.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Horgan, E., Lawson, S. & O’Neill, D. Oropharyngeal dysphagia among patients newly discharged to nursing home care after an episode of hospital care. Ir J Med Sci 189, 295–297 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11845-019-02061-0

Download citation


  • Deglutition disorders
  • Nursing homes
  • Patient transfer