Top tips - Mealtime positioning for people with swallowing problems

​Discover some mealtime positioning tips for patients with Dysphagia

Part of our Top Tips series for Dysphagia management

Sit upright in erect position

Make sure people with dysphagia are sitting as upright as possible – prop them up with pillows if they are unable to sit erect themselves.

Head tilted forward / chin down

Ask them to tilt their head forward with their chin slightly forward. It is often believed that it is best to get people with dysphagia to tilt their head back to open the passage down to the oesophagus, but this actually makes it more difficult to swallow.

Support impaired side of body

If people with swallowing difficulties have one side weaker than the other make sure you support the impaired side.

Sit at or below eye level

When feeding people with dysphagia, position yourself at the same level or slightly below their eye level. This will make it easier for him/her to maintain their head in the most appropriate position.

Place food in stronger side of mouth

If there is any facial weakness, make sure you sit on the stronger side and place food into that side of the mouth to maximise careful feeding.

Sit on side which will maximise careful feeding

Take account of visual field deficits, re-seating and food placement

Finally take account of any visual field deficits regarding seating and food placement – for example, make sure you put food well within arms’ reach, and the people with dysphagia can see it.