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TECH TALK: How technology can improve oral care in care homes

September 3, 2019

Published in Care Home Professional

Jonathan Papworth, co-founder and director of Person Centred Software, explains why CQC is focusing on oral care and how training and technology can help you comply with oral care guidelines.

I was shocked to hear the results of CQC’s recent investigation into oral care in care homes. The findings highlighted there is a lack of access to dentists and insufficient support provided by care home staff.

Of 100 care homes, 73% of care plans only partly covered or did not cover oral health, and 47% were not training staff to support daily oral healthcare.

This has a drastic effect on residents’ health and wellbeing. Oral care is important for maintaining residents’ overall health. Tooth decay has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, dementia and aspiration pneumonia. Poor oral care can also have a distressing emotional effect. The report mentions a resident with dementia who “began to not recognise her own reflection when she didn’t ‘have her teeth in”.

CQC will be inspecting oral care more rigorously and recommend mandatory training in line with NICE guideline NG48, which will build staff confidence and knowledge with oral care.

Technology can support staff with oral care by repeating and reinforcing the guidance. CQC noted that detailed oral health plans could result from a care home using an electronic care management system. Assessment records and real-time electronic evidence of care can populate a personalised, up-to-date and accessible care plan. My advice is to consider a system provider that works closely with oral care experts to ensure the tools are up to date and in line best practice. An informed system, along with training, will mean that carers are supported to provide the best quality of care and support to maintain residents’ oral health and overall wellbeing.

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