Use of mealtime advice mats in special schools for children with learning disabilities
Intended for healthcare professionals
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Use of mealtime advice mats in special schools for children with learning disabilities

Sally Morgan Lecturer in speech and language therapy, City, University of London, Division of Language and Communication Science, England
Elyse Luxon Speech and language therapist, City, University of London, England
Anum Soomro Speech and language therapist, City, University of London, England
Celia Harding Senior lecturer, City, University of London, England

Aim Eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties can have serious outcomes for children and adults with learning disabilities. Carers must adhere to management guidelines about mealtime support, and multidisciplinary teams must ensure this happens. A one-page point of care tool summarising the guidelines for a specific client, sometimes termed a ‘mealtime advice mat’ (MAM), is one method. The aim of this study was to determine whether MAMs are used in special schools, gain an understanding of their format and use and identify other methods of supporting adherence such as training.

Methods Questionnaires were given to 14 speech and language therapists (SLTs) who work in special schools, and 13 members of staff of one London special school.

Results The results suggest that SLTs use MAMS as common practice, and that there is agreement on their content and format, but not on the name of the resource. School staff also use this type of tool, but not directly at mealtimes.

Conclusion Written, simplified guidelines to support children at mealtimes are used in special schools, however, although they contain similar information they vary in title and the way they are used. MAMs are simple and potentially cost-effective point-of-care tools that can reinforce eating and drinking guidelines, and can be used to measure adherence. Ensuring they are understood by and useful to carers requires further investigation.

Learning Disability Practice. 21, 2, 20-26. doi: 10.7748/ldp.2018.e1856


Peer review

This article has been subject to double-blind peer review and checked for plagiarism using automated software

Conflict of interest

None declared

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Received: 24 August 2017

Accepted: 26 October 2017

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