#thickenedliquidchallenge with @DrMukeshH: Do thickened fluids benefit people with swallowing problems?

The team at GeriPal started the Thickened Liquid Challenge to raise awareness of the use of thickened liquids (or thickened fluids, as I know them) for people with swallowing difficulties. Thickened fluids are frequently prescribed to people with swallowing difficulties, but the evidence for their long-term benefit is unconvincing, as GeriPal’s Dr Eric Widera explains. In addition, they are unpleasant (as you will see from the videos!) and may result in reduced fluid intake and dehydration. You can read more about it (and watch many videos of the challenge) at GeriPal.

On Saturday May 16th, Palliverse’s Sonia Fullerton challenged Dr Mukesh Haikerwal (GP, health advocate, tweep, Chair of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, all round champion) to the thickened liquid challenge. He drank a cup of water thickened to Level 900 “pudding” consistency (that’s as thick as it goes), as you can see the video above. Mukesh nominated the Victorian Minister for Health, the Hon Jill Hennessy MP, to take on the challenge. The Minister has valiantly accepted and we look forward to seeing the video of her challenge, and hearing who she nominates. (I must note that Sonia went visibly pale as the Minister was nominated – I think she was worried she might need to find a new job interstate!)

If you are interested in trying the thickened liquid challenge, to raise awareness and to give colleagues the opportunity for “empathy by experience”, here are the rules from GeriPal:

  • 12 Hour Challenge: All fluids must be thickened to “honey consistency” using a beverage thickener for a 12 hour contiguous period. Food does not have to be thickened.
  • Mini-challenge: drink a 250mL drink thickened to honey consistency (coffee, wine, juice, water, or any drink of your choice)
  • Videotape yourself and include an announcement that you accept the challenge
  • If you fail the challenge you must donate $20 to a geriatrics or palliative care charity of your choice (see notes below for some suggestions)
  • At the end of your challenge, nominate a minimum of three other people/teams to participate in the challenge. 
  • When posting the challenge online, please use the hashtag #thickenedliquidchallenge

This is Palliverse’s first foray into video and I apologise for the “quick and dirty” quality. We plan to upload more video content in future. If you would like to see Sonia’s full presentation from the Medicine Social conference on “Social Media for Change and Union”, see the video below (filmed using Periscope).

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