Dental Tribune UK & Ireland

Report calls for better training in oral healthcare for retirement home staff

LONDON, UK: An ageing population is a topic of concern in many countries around the world. It is estimated that the number of those over 60 will have doubled by 2050, and the need for the establishment of quality services is imperative. As oral health is an important key to quality of life, a recent review by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has called for the implementation of comprehensive oral health training for all retirement home staff.

The review looked at 100 care homes across the UK and found that 52% of them do not have oral health plans for residents, and 47% of staff have never received training in oral healthcare. The British Association of Dental Nurses (BADN) has given its support to the report, which has also called for the swift implementation of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines.

Prof. Elizabeth Kay, MBE, President of the Oral Health Foundation (OHF), who worked on the NICE guideline Oral Health for Adults in Care Homes, said that the guideline was not being followed as it should be, although it was very clear. The guideline recommends that managers of care staff ensure that “staff provide residents with daily support to meet their mouth care needs [… including …] brushing natural teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste”. It also recommends that staff provide “daily oral care for full or partial dentures (such as brushing, removing food debris and removing dentures overnight)”.

Chief Executive of the OHF, Dr Nigel Carter, OBE, said, “This concerning report should act as big wake-up call for the care sector and the NHS. Clearly oral health is not being given the attention it deserves in care homes.”

Speaking about the possible ways forward, BADN Chair Jane Dalgarno, who is a member of the Delivering Better Oral Health Working Group, said funding would be the first step in offering the opportunity for more effective use of a dental team’s skills and, in particular, the skills of registered dental nurses. “Whilst obviously not solving the complex problem of inadequate oral healthcare in care homes, [funding] would be a first step in the right direction.”

The full CQC report, titled Smiling Matters: Oral Health Care in Care Homes, can be found here.

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