Oral health care needs of dependent older people: responsibilities of nurses and care staff
The population of older people as well as the number of dependent older people is steadily increasing. Those unable to live independently at home are being cared for in a range of settings and varying degrees of dependency means that many are unable to attend fully to their needs, one aspect of which is oral care. The fact that the oral and dental health of the UK population is generally improving, makes more emphatic the responsibilities of nurses and care staff in this area. This review of the literature reveals that oral health of older people in continuing care settings is generally inadequate and that nurses’ and care staff’s knowledge and practice of oral care for older people is variable. Inadequate oral care is identified as multifactorial, with implications for educators, policy makers, practitioners and researchers. The need to address oral care for nurses pre- and post-registration as well as adequate preparation for support workers is highlighted. Development of a robust oral assessment tool, as well as empirical investigation of the effectiveness of oral cleaning agents, equipment and techniques to inform standard setting is indicated, with monitoring of standards being imperative.