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Cooking up tasty treats for patients who struggle to swallow

Russell Lea with a dish he has created

Image may contain: 3 people, people sitting, food and indoor

Some of our Dieticians and Speech & Language Therapists have been working with a renowned chef to create tasty treats for our patients who have had their voice box removed.

We have held a taster session for laryngectomy patients (when the voice box is removed) to support their dietary needs long term.

Patients usually have a laryngectomy to treat cancer, and after the procedure the sense of taste and the ability to swallow are altered by the removal of the voice box; up to 30% of people suffer from depression and social isolation as a result.

Our multi-disciplinary team are hoping that by creating exciting new recipes our laryngectomy patients will be able to regain the element of interactivity that cooking and eating with family and friends brings.

In partnership with Gordon Ramsay-trained chef, Russell Lee, the taster session was held to help our local laryngectomy support group to determine which smells, tastes and textures work best for them in regards to enjoyment, ease of swallowing and palatability. Following on from the taster session, the team are hoping to collate a range of approved recipes to turn into a cookbook; they will also be looking to hold a monthly support group lunch that brings laryngectomy patients and their families together, to talk and share tips and thoughts over Russell’s fantastic, laryngectomy-friendly creations.

The project itself has been led by our ear, nose and throat specialist, Dr. Thomas Moors. Thomas has been a champion for laryngectomy patients and has focused on getting them long-term support to ensure that they maintain good social engagement and can adapt to any dietary changes post-surgery. Thomas has founded a charity called ‘Shout at Cancer’, which specialises in voice rehabilitation and regaining confidence- it is the only charity in the world that provides this kind of support.

Chef Russell Lee decided to work with us after being treated by our staff: “After being treated several times to try and cure my sleep apnoea, my last operation unfortunately ruptured, for which I received fantastic care from Thomas and the team. From meeting Thomas and my own experience with struggling to eat normally, I wanted to work with Thomas to help laryngectomy patients enjoy food again and enable them to create simple dishes that they can change to suit themselves and their families.”

Dr Thomas Moors said: “The psychosocial impact of losing the voice is significant, affecting a person's professional and personal life in a devastating way. To make things worse, the sense of taste and ability to swallow are also altered by this invasive surgery. Speech after laryngectomy is often produced by the induction of vibration of the oesophageal wall — the ability to speak and to have food simultaneously is complicated, if not impossible, which is why we invited Russell Lee, a chef in Preston trained by Gordon Ramsay, to explore how to maximise the joy of food and social engagement during meals following laryngectomy.”

Karen Partington, Chief Executive, said: “We are extremely proud to be working with renowned chef Russell Lee on this exciting and innovative project, which will make a real difference to the lives of our laryngectomy patients. People who have had their voice box removed have to learn to live in a different way and we are committed to helping our patients live their lives to the fullest. Our dedicated dieticians and our speech and language therapists continue to work with our patients long after their surgery, often for the rest of their lives, and we want to do everything we can to provide excellent care with compassion.”

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