Almas Ataie – Mouth Care Matters Lead at Brighton and Sussex University Hospital
As a speech and language therapist working with mostly vulnerable elderly patients, I see first-hand how mouth care could be improved in the hospital environment. Mouth care has never been given priority as part of personal care. Maybe it is because when the mouth is closed, it is the easiest thing to not think about. However for us as a profession, the mouth is where it all begins. Our assessment always begins with the mouth, as you cannot communicate, eat or drink, or feel confident if your mouth doesn’t feel clean and moist.
When the role of Mouth Care Matters Lead came up at Brighton and Sussex University hospital, I knew I would be able to make a difference within the trust. As not only am I so passionate about good mouth care, but I always enjoyed the education aspect of my previous role.
Since becoming the Mouth Care Matters Lead, to date, I have put the following in place at my trust:
- Baseline audits have taken place to allow for monitoring change.
- 20 minute drop in training sessions are now mandatory for all nursing staff. I am working my way around both hospital sites to deliver this training. To date I have trained over 500 nursing staff in the trust, and it is an ongoing process.
- Mouth care is now part of away days, specialist study days and nurse preceptorship days.
- Our trust now also has mouth care as part of the Care Certificate which all new health care assistants entering the trust will complete.
- A new screening and risk assessment tool in place within the body of the ‘Patient Safety Booklet’, requiring staff to complete the preliminary screen within 12 hours of all patient admissions to a ward.
- Monthly Mouth Care Matters meetings now take place and include attendees from a variety of multi-disciplinary backgrounds.
- New mouth care products introduced to all wards in the trust. In addition to this, I have a stock of more specialist products available to patients on request.
- Also a Mouth Care Support referral is in place on the staff intranet page where staff can refer any patients they would like advice or assistance with in regards to managing mouth care.
- Mouth Care patient advice leaflet created and available on the trusts home page.
- ‘Mouth Care Specialist Incident’ set up within the trust’s incident recording system.
- The initiative has also been introduced to the trust board.
As an individual promoting mouth care for my trust, in years to come I want my legacy to be:
Mouth Care to be part of all mandatory induction for new staff entering the trust. As well as continuous refreshers with new information for existing staff. I would like to ensure a policy is implemented and for Mouth Care to get the recognition that it deserves.
My dream would be to have a permanent Mouth Care Team, who play an important supportive role on the wards.
Response so Far
Currently, the response to the initiative has been overall very positive. Staff appear engaged at all levels and are welcoming a positive change. What is always clear is that health care professionals are there for the people! There is never a lack of care or compassion, but just the pressures that everyone is facing within the NHS.