Time and lack of resources are to blame for poor oral health in care homes

Insufficient time to carry out effective mouth care for residents with challenging behaviour and failure by homes to purchase essential non-prescription resources such as low foaming toothpaste are among the barriers to improving oral health in older people in care homes.

A report into the delivery of oral health programme in Wales shows that staff and residents have benefited from better oral health. Anecdotal reports suggest that residents have fewer chest infections and episodes of oral thrush since introducing the programme.

To date, 52.3 per cent of Wales 650 care homes have been targeted to participate in the programme, benefitting 5,670 residents. Participating homes receive training and support in the use of all-Wales training resources, including the Improving Mouth care Manual. The programme is now an integral part of the Care Home Improvement Cymru programme which is funded by Welsh Government with delivery led by Public Health Wales/1000 Lives Service improvement.

Other identified barriers include:

  • shift working and staff sickness
  • staff with limited use of the English language
  • high rates of staff turnover
  • last-minute cancellation of training sessions.

Training resources, including a How to… guide are available online.

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