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Diane and team awarded £100k grant

Date: 02 June 2021 to 31 December 2098

SCFT researchers have been awarded a £100,000 grant to fund the local roll-out and extension of a project that helps ensure people with cerebral palsy can eat and drink safely and efficiently. 

The National Institute for Health Research Applied Research Collaboration (Kent, Surrey and Sussex) is giving the team the money over two years so it can develop work linked to the Eating and Drinking Ability Classification System (EDACS). 

EDACS was created in 2014 by a team based at Chailey Clinical Services and led by Dr Diane Sellers, Clinical Academic Speech and Language Therapist (pictured), who said they were “delighted” with the grant. 

“It will be the first time we implement use of EDACS across health and social care services in the UK,” she said. “It will also be the first time we consider its use with adults with cerebral palsy. 

“The funding gives us the opportunity to build local implementation strategies that can then be scaled up nationally.” 

EDACS is important because people with cerebral palsy experience difficulties with the movements required for safe and efficient eating and drinking, with biting, chewing and swallowing often affected. 

They may not be able to eat or drink enough to stay healthy, and some may have problems with chest infections due to particles of food and drink entering their lungs when they swallow. 

These difficulties may not be obvious and can be fatal. 

To improve understanding of these risks, and aid communication between families and professionals, Diane and her team developed EDACS’ five ability levels: 

Level I – Eats and drinks safely and efficiently; 

Level II – Eats and drinks safely but with some limitations to efficiency; 

Level III – Eats and drinks with some limitations to safety; possible limitations to efficiency; 

Level IV – Eats and drinks with significant limitations to safety; 

Level V – Unable to eat or drink safely – tube feeding may be considered to provide nutrition. 

EDACS has been adopted by international clinical and research communities to help children and young people with cerebral palsy. 

Twenty-two different language versions are available to download from the EDACS website and 13 additional translations are under development.