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New guidance is coming for Victorian healthcare services to support safe eating and drinking for patients at high risk, including:

  • Clinical practice guidance for communicating safe eating and drinking for patients at high risk
  • A self-assessment checklist for health services to assess their processes against the guidance.

To develop this guidance:

  • we are working with a group of subject matter experts, consumers and stakeholders to develop recommended practices and
  • we will seek feedback on the draft guidance from stakeholders and the sector in November 2019.

Why are we developing this guidance?

Choking on and inhaling food are risks of unsafe eating and drinking that have led to patient deaths in Victorian health services. 

Our expert working group, chaired by the Chief Allied Health Officer has reviewed these events to critically evaluate the systems and processes used in Victorian hospitals. The review has identified variation and inconsistencies in many of the systems. 

The new guidance we are developing will: 

  • show Victorian hospitals how to critically evaluate their own systems and processes. 
  • how to implement safe eating and drinking of foods, fluids and medicines for high-risk.

Scope of guidance

This guidance is being developed for all staff working with patients who: 

  • have swallowing difficulties or dysphagia, and
  • are at high risk during eating and drinking unsupervised.

Expert working group membership

Donna Markham Chair Chief Allied Health Officer, Safer Care Victoria
Rhiannon Beggs Manager of Speech Pathology and Audiology Melbourne Health
Christine Bruce Director Speech Pathology Eastern Health
Kerri Easton Consumer  
Tanya Frost Acute stroke nurse Eastern Health
Heather Gilbertson Manager Nutrition and Food Services Royal Children’s Hospital
Leanne Mills Director of Nursing Royal Talbot Rehabilitation Centre
Claire Nailon Manager of Speech Pathology Western District health Service
Leonie Pearce Manager of Nutrition and Dietetics Austin Health
Kerrie Walter Senior Project Officer Safer Care Victoria
Deidre White Consumer  
Kaye Widdicomb Allied Health Manager Colac area health
Jane Wilding Clinical Nurse Educator Barwon Health
Bernadette Twomey Chief Nursing Officer Austin Health


Get in touch

Kerrie Walter
Senior Project Officer
Safer Care Victoria
(03) 9096 9072

Page last updated: 11 Nov 2019

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