Leading the Way on Oral Health Care

Dentist and patientWhen the results from a Dalhousie research study on oral health care in seniors were released several years ago, the message was clear: when compared to other personal care needs, oral care is not seen as a priority.

Wanting to help translate the research into everyday practical knowledge for Northwood Homecare workers, Staff Educator, Janice Chalmers gave a 90-minute education session to 360 home support staff in five different locations. “Staff were shown a DVD on oral health basics and another specific to clients with dementia,” says Janice. “We then talked about whether or not they offered oral care to clients, and if not what the barriers were.”

During the education sessions, each Home Support Worker (HSW) received an information card with all the details of providing appropriate oral care to clients. (The cards are also now part of care plans for all new clients and will eventually be distributed to existing clients.) Six months later, Janice completed an evaluation with the HSWs to look at whether staff were using the information they’d received. The results were amazing! Out of the 234 evaluations returned, 85% said they shared the information with clients and 97% said they had the opportunity to provide some form of oral care to clients.

Looking ahead to the future, Janice says that all new Homecare staff will receive the oral care training. And in September 2013, oral health care will become part of the CCA curriculum in Nova Scotia.

Congratulations to Janice and her Homecare team in leading the way and developing a best practice around oral health for seniors.

Note: During one of the education sessions, a Northwood HSW suggested it would be a great idea to have all the information she needs to provide good oral care to clients on her Blackberry. Since then, the Dalhousie research team has applied for a grant to develop such an app for Northwood and others to use.