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Oral care in care homes much improved – but more can be done

Oral care in care homes in England has improved, but more can be done, the health and care regulator has said.

A follow up review of the Smiling Matters oral care report calls for care homes to make further improvements including:  

  • Ensure there is an oral health assessment on admission to a care home
  • Raise awareness among residents and families of treatment costs, including NHS treatment.

In addition, there are several recommendations for commissioners:

  • Promote cross-sector integration between care home and dental professionals
  • Use funding to improve oral health in care homes – through local initiatives like peer-to-peer support schemes
  • Increase dental access and training, specifically for people who may be less mobile.

The follow up report to the 2019 Smiling Matters report finds improvements in the oral care of care home residents since 2019, specifically that:  

  • Care home staff’s awareness of the NICE oral health guideline has increased by a third – to 91 per cent
  • More than double the proportion of care plans fully covered oral health needs (60 per cent in 2022 up from 27 per cent)
  • The percentage of care home providers saying that staff always (or mostly always) receive specific training in oral health has doubled to 60 per cent.

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