The Faculty of General Dental Practice has welcomed the addition of oral health requirements to the Care Quality Commission’s inspections of care homes in England.
The change comes as a result of the health inspectorate’s Smiling Matters study, published earlier this year, which the Faculty helped develop through the involvement of Professor Paul Batchelor, editor of FGDP(UK)’s Dementia-Friendly Dentistry guidance.
Around 400,000 people in the UK live in care homes, and NICE Guideline NG48 recommends that residents are supported to clean their teeth and/or dentures daily, and have their oral health needs assessed on admission and recorded in their personal care plans.
However, the CQC’s report found that one in six care homes do not assess residents' oral health on admission, 52% do not have an oral health plan for residents, and 47% of staff had not received training in oral health care. Care homes specialising in dementia, which affects up to 70% of care home residents, were even less likely to have considered oral health needs.
To encourage greater engagement with the oral health needs of care home residents, from this month CQC inspectors are asking providers two mandatory questions on oral health, each with five indicators which will impact providers’ ‘Effective’ ratings:
1. Do all staff have training in oral health care?
- Is oral health covered in induction?
- Is oral health a mandatory component of regular training?
- Do staff feel confident in supporting oral health care?
- Do staff know what to look for to identify deterioration in oral health?
- Do staff consider poor oral health when assessing reasons behind weight loss, infection, or tissue viability?
2. How do you ensure oral health care is assessed, considered and delivered as a part of a person's care plan?
- Is the service aware of the NICE Guideline NG48?
- Is oral health assessed fully on entry to the care home in line with this guideline?
- Is there detailed oral health care plan in place?
- Do people have easy access to toothpaste, toothbrushes, denture cleaning fluid?
- Do people have access to routine and emergency dental care?
Prof Batchelor commented:
“The inclusion of oral health questions in the CQC’s adult social care inspections is fantastic news for care home residents across England. Poor oral health can cause pain and can limit a person’s ability to eat well, sleep well and socialise, so it is important that some of our most vulnerable citizens are supported to maintain good oral health to support their wellbeing and quality of life. We should also remember that the majority of the elderly, including 500,000 people with dementia, live in their own accommodation, and their oral care must also be ensured.”