OMNI starts first phase of IDDSI rollout in its homes

Pictured above, a diagram of the IDDSI framework.

Adopting the IDDSI framework will help OMNI homes enhance safety for residents with swallowing difficulty

PETERBOROUGH, Ont. – OMNI Health Care has started the first of three phases of its rollout of the International Dysphagia Diet Standardisation Initiative (IDDSI) to enhance safety for residents with dysphagia, the medical term for swallowing difficulty, which is often caused by neurological conditions including dementia or stroke.

On Jan. 1, IDDSI was officially launched in Canada to help create a standardized language for food and beverage textures. OMNI is adopting the IDDSI framework in its 18 long-term care homes.

The first phase of the implementation is now in effect, with some of OMNI’s main suppliers that are involved with IDDSI committing to dual labelling on beverage packaging and reformulating products when needed to meet the new IDDSI levels, explains Chris Weber, OMNI’s operations manager of nutrition and food service.

In February, OMNI will be launching IDDSI-labelled beverages. Team members in each home will be using the new IDDSI terminology and texture testing methods as part of Phase 1, Weber says.

Dysphagia is a common condition among residents living in long-term care homes. The condition affects an estimated eight per cent of the general population, according to IDDSI.

At the core of the IDDSI framework is an eight-level scale, numbered zero to seven, measuring the thickness of meals. Zero refers to thin liquids, like water or fruit juices; Level 7 is regular food.

OMNI homes began preparing for the IDDSI implementation in January 2018.

The second phase of the IDDSI rollout for OMNI will be when the summer/fall menu is created. This will be the first menu that has texture-modified foods available that meet IDDSI standards. Weber says the plan is to trial this at one home to stem any growing pains that might come with the implementation process.

The third phase of the IDDSI implementation will begin in January 2020 when there is full deployment of texture-modified foods in the 18 homes that meet IDDSI standards with IDDSI labelling.

As part of OMNI’s commitment to implementing the IDDSI framework, Weber has joined the Canadian IDDSI Expert Reference Group (CIERG), a collaboration of professionals including speech-language pathologists, dietitians, nurses, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, doctors, mechanical engineers and food scientists. The CIERG website states the group is working collaboratively to “promote, monitor, support, advocate and communicate recommendations for implementation of the IDDSI framework within Canadian organizations and industry.”

Weber says 2019 will be a “big year for IDDSI,” with a lot of focus on implementing the framework.

“By adopting the IDDSI framework, we are endeavouring to provide the highest level of quality and safety for residents with swallowing difficulties,” he says.

“By providing safe, nutritious and consistent textures, evidence has shown a substantial increase of food intake is possible. Safety, increased intake and consistency are the ultimate goals of the IDDSI framework. OMNI is taking a front-seat approach to this initiative.”

If you have a story you would like to share with The OMNIway, please contact the newsroom at e-mail deron(at)

If you have feedback on this story, please call the newsroom at e-mail deron(at)