Care homes called on to prioritise oral health of residents
From an early age, we are brought up to brush our teeth at least twice a day and to take good care of our mouths. However, as we get older and have to battle with a host of physical and mental ailments, looking after our teeth and mouths is sometimes easier said than done, and many older people suffer from poor oral health as a result.
Poor oral health in the elderly population seems to be a particular problem in care homes, with more than half of older adults in residential care suffering from tooth decay, compared to 40% of over 75s who do not live in a care home. Research has also shown that care home staff often have little understanding of the importance of oral health and lack training in this area.
For this reason, NICE (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) are calling on care homes to prioritise the oral health of residents.
The importance of good oral health
Maintaining good oral health is vitally important to a person’s health and wellbeing. Poor oral care can lead to tooth and gum problems which can be incredibly painful and affect a person’s ability to eat, speak and socialise. The pain caused by infection or decay can also be very traumatic for patients with dementia. What’s more, there is also a link between oral health and conditions such as oral cancer and cardiovascular disease, so poor oral health could have serious implications for a patient’s long term health.
In order to help tackle the problem of poor oral health care amongst the elderly population, NICE has launched a draft quality standard which advises that care home residents should have their oral health needs assessed upon admission, and that these should be recorded on their personal care plan. The standard also recommends that care home staff should support residents to clean their teeth or dentures twice a day.
In order to support care home staff in their duties in this area, NICE, in conjunction with the Social Care Institute for Excellence, have also produced a quick guide resource to help care home managers improve the oral health of adults in their care.
Oral health with live-in carers
When it comes to maintaining oral health, live-in care can often have advantages over a care home. In a residential care setting, staff usually work on shift patterns, meaning that residents do not always have continuity of care. What’s more, care home staff are often overstretched, with responsibility for several patients, so it’s easy to see how issues such as oral health can sometimes can sometimes be pushed to the bottom of the priority list.
A live in carer, in contrast, has 24/7 responsibility for just one person, providing a round-the-clock package of care in the client’s own home. This means that live-in carers can deliver a more personalised service and have the time to ensure that every aspect of their client’s health – including their oral health – is taken care of. As well as supporting a patient with their oral care, a live-in carer also provides companionship, support, and that all-important peace of mind.
If you’d like to find out more about live-in care, please get in touch. We’d be happy to discuss how a live-in carer could potentially support you and your family.