Oral Health and Hygiene – Keep Care Smiling in Sussex

At Home Instead Brighton, Hove and Shoreham we provide a range of non-medical services but recognise the importance of good oral health and hygiene. Our CAREGivers support our Clients with oral health as part of meeting their companionship, home help or personal care/healthcare needs.

We actively encourage our clients and their families to take some easy steps towards better daily oral care. This is vital to help prevent diseases of the mouth and to reduce the risks to general health. We also encourage clients to tell us about any oral health pain, denture related or other related concerns they have. Queries are passed on to Care Management at our office so we may help and/or signpost as needed.

As part of our commitment to good Oral Health we welcomed Ali McNealy to our CAREGiver team meeting last month. She delivered a valuable and informative session on Mouth Care for Adults in a Care Setting. Ali is Oral Health Promotion Team Leader for the Special Care Dental Service of the Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust.

Ali emphasised the importance of a healthy mouth for attractiveness, self-esteem, communication and eating a full range of foods. Good or bad oral health can also, for people who may or may not still have their own teeth, affect the whole body. There is growing evidence that periodontal diseases, or gum disease, from the build-up of plaque and bacteria is linked with inflammation in the body. This inflammation is also linked with cardiovascular disease and other chronic conditions like diabetes, kidney disease and even prosthetic joint complications.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) published a report in June this year calling for improvements to oral health in care homes in England. The CQC report found:

52% of care homes visited had no policy to promote and protect people’s oral health.

47% of care homes were not providing any staff training to support people’s daily oral healthcare.

73% of residents’ care plans only partly covered or did not cover oral health at all – homes looking after people with dementia being the most likely to have no plan in place.

Kate Terroni, Chief Inspector for Adult Social Care, said: “The changes needed can only happen with the efforts of all parts of the health and care system coming together, helping people who use services, their families and carers to be aware of the importance of oral care.”

Oral health will also shortly be embedded in the Care Certificate, the industry standard from Skills for Health. Always learning, after initial and extensive four-day training, our CAREGivers are supported and offered continuous training opportunities by our Learning and Development Manager, Lucy.

“Being a CAREGiver for Home Instead Brighton, Hove and Shoreham is a rewarding and flexible career, with great opportunities for learning and progression. We’re grateful to Ali for providing such a great session and I’m proud that our team are supporting our Clients to keep care smiling in Sussex and share our commitment to quality home care!”
Lucy said.

During our CAREGiver meeting, Ali McNealy from the Sussex NHS Community Oral Health Promotion Team highlighted good practices which our CAREGivers encourage. We share a few of these with you here:

* See a dentist regularly.

* Brush teeth, gums and soft tissues thoroughly twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste. As a non-medical service we can only prompt and encourage this but that is usually sufficient.

* A toothpaste with higher fluoride content is available for those in need of extra support with plaque and the risk of bacteria that carries.

* Some people don't like how toothpaste foams and feel the taste is too strong. Unflavoured, non-foaming varieties are however available.

* Spit, don’t rinse! Do not use mouth wash or rinse your mouth out after brushing. This washes away the helpful fluoride from the toothpaste.

* The health of soft tissue in the mouth, not just the teeth is crucial so it’s important, as far as possible, to check your tongue, cheeks, gums. Problems include cracking, ulcers and mouth thrush.

* Clean dentures morning and night using a toothbrush, denture cream or non-perfumed soap and water.

* Badly fitting or broken dentures can cause ulcers. But if someone has an ulcer for over two weeks and it is not caused by dentures a dentist needs to check as it can be a sign of mouth cancer.

* It is not the amount of sugar eaten but the frequency that is most damaging to teeth. Keep sugary snacks and drinks to mealtimes.

For further information this leaflet on Preventing Dental Disease for people living with early dementia can be downloaded from Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust.

With or without a diagnosis of dementia, people often need support and assistance to help them retain as much independence and live as fulfilled lives as possible. An early recognition and acknowledgement of support can help families establish care as part of the daily routine, helping those with memory loss to remain independent. Find out more about our Alzheimer's disease and dementia home care services here