Provision of dental care in aged care facilities, NSW, Australia – Part 1 as perceived by the Directors of Nursing (care providers)
Objective: To ascertain the Directors of Nursing (DONs) perception of the provision of dental care and the difficulties in oral health maintenance for residents in New South Wales (NSW) aged care facilities (ACFs).
Background: There were no specific figures relating to DONs’ perceptions of oral health needs and dental care nor obstructions to dental care of residents.
Materials and methods: A total of 414 questionnaires, encoded for confidentiality, were posted to all DONs of ACFs in NSW and the data analysed.
Results: Questionnaires were returned from 255 ACFs (response rate 61.6%) representing 16 861 residents with a male-to-female ratio of 1:3.45. Of these residents, 48% had a dental assessment on admission by qualified dental staff. In 74.2% of facilities, no regular visits by dental staff took place, and 58.6% considered the perceived unwillingness of dental professionals to visit residents a barrier to good oral health. DONs reported that 53.6% of residents had dentures only, while 18.3% had natural teeth only. The most frequent difficulties reported by staff were residents’ use of abusive language (78.2%) and residents refusing to open mouth (60.9%).
Conclusion: Lack of involvement of dental professionals in admission assessment and in ongoing programmes was of concern to DONs in ACFs.