Your disability may mean you need low-cost assistive technology to help you eat and drink as independently as possible.
Low-cost assistive technology for dysphagia includes things like adaptive cutlery, plate guards, sticky mats and plugs to attach plates to a table.
Low-cost items are easy to set up and use and are available from local suppliers or non-disability specific retailers.
If low cost assistive technology meets the NDIS funding criteria for you, we can include funding for it in your plan.
Learn more about low cost assistive technology.
What if you need thickener products?
You may need to see a speech pathologist to help you to manage your dysphagia. We may be able to fund a speech pathologist for your dysphagia support needs.
They might recommend thickener products which thicken food or fluids to help you to swallow, eat and drink safely. Thickener products can be added to most foods and drinks, so you can have a range of food and drink choices. They are the most cost-effective way to thicken food and fluids.
The amount of thickener you need will depend on the thickness of food or fluid your speech pathologist recommends. Your speech pathologist will assess how thick you need your food and drink to be.
The International Dysphagia Diet Standardization Initiative Framework includes four levels of thickness for fluids.
- slightly thick
- mildly thick
- moderately thick
- extremely thick.
The amount of thickener you need will also depend on whether you can take in food orally, which means through your mouth. Or if you feed through home enteral nutrition, also called HEN.
Home enteral nutrition is a different way of getting your food and drink at home. It is used when you can’t eat or drink through your mouth. It can be a nutritional supplement drink, thickened fluids or a special formula given by a tube into the stomach or bowel.
You may also use a combination of oral and home enteral nutrition feeding. If you have a combination, you’ll generally need smaller amounts of thickener.
Your speech pathologist will describe this in the assessment report they develop for you.
Learn more about home enteral nutrition in Our Guideline on Nutrition supports including meal preparation.
You may have a full oral feeding diet or a combination of oral and home enteral nutrition feeding.
In both situations we may include funding in your plan for:
- Slightly thick fluids
- mildly thick fluids
- moderately thick fluids
- extremely thick fluids.
We’ll use reports from your speech pathologist to work out how much funding for thickeners to include in your plan.
Your speech pathologist can use our Nutrition and dysphagia assistive technology assessment template or write their own report.
This will include the amount of thickener product you need. We use this information to work out the reasonable and necessary funds to include in your plan.
You can also get pre-made thickened fluids. But there is only a small range and they cost quite a lot more. We generally don’t include these products in the funding for thickeners in your plan.
However, you may choose to purchase these products at a cost to you. You would need to think about whether pre-made thickened fluids are worth the extra cost to you.
What if you need someone to help you to eat or drink?
You might need someone to help you to eat or drink if you can’t do this yourself because of your disability.
This could be a family member, carer, friend or a support worker. If you need support from someone else, we may include funding for:
- a support worker to attend training for up to 2 hours per year on the specific dysphagia support needs described in your mealtime management plan
- training for the people who help you with your day-to-day dysphagia support and care.
We may also include funding for personal care hours for a support worker to help you with: