Spring 2020 issue
Est. Reading: 2 minutes

Teeth, Tongues and Gums Matter in Dementia - A Quality Improvement Project

THE staff team on Sally Sherman Ward at East Ham Care Centre have embarked on an ambitious QI project to improve the wellbeing of their patients by adopting an evidence based approach to oral health.

The rationale for the project is as follows:

  • People with dementia are more likely to be unable to perform oral hygiene
  • People with dementia tend to have worse oral health, greater treatment need, yet access care less frequently than general population
  • This has a significant impact on general health and wellbeing, impacts upon quality of life, diet and nutrition, and life-expectancy in the longer term.

The project aims to achieve the following:

  • Improve the oral health of the patients on Sally Sherman Ward.
  • Adopt an Evidenced Based approach to Oral Health
  • Promote and improve wellbeing in general
  • Provide care in line with the Trust’s values

The ward team intends to provide proactive as opposed to reactive care and interventions using NICE guidelines as an evidence base and by adopting a Multi-Disciplinary Team approach that will include but not be limited to Nursing staff, Health Care Assistants and Support staff, Dentist and Oral Health Practitioner and Speech and Language Therapist.

The project will implement oral health assessment and mouth care plans and daily mouth care and keeping records that will be incorporated into all patients’ care plans. Staff will be upskilled to understand mouth care needs and carry out assessments, and to be aware of the signs of dental ill health e.g. tooth decay, abscesses, dry mouth and gum disease, recognising that good oral health improves general wellbeing.

The ward has already facilitated a baseline assessment of each patient on Sally Sherman Ward that was completed by the Community Dentist and Oral Health Care Promoter as a result of which individualised equipment and tools will be introduced based on assessment of each individual patient’s needs e.g. Brushes, Toothpastes (Non-foam/foam, Finger protectors, Guards etc.).

Ultimately the project aims to improve the experience of patients and their carer’s while enhancing and maintaining staff satisfaction in caring for their patients.

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