House of Commons highlight Mouth Care Matters as example of good practice.
Earlier this month, MP for Bedfordshire Andrew Selous held an adjournment debate on the oral health of older people. This was to raise awareness for appropriate dental services for older frail adults and ensure staff/carers in social care have oral health training. Mr Selous discussed findings from the Faculty of Dental Surgery Report on the oral health of older people which stipulates in 2017, an estimated 1.8 million people aged over 65 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland had an urgent dental condition such as dental pain, oral sepsis or extensive untreated decay. It is believed this figure will rise to 2.7 million by 2040. Having a painful oral health problem can impact the ability to eat comfortably, speak and socialise with confidence. (Royal College of Surgeons (2017) Improving older people’s oral health)
Five key areas targeted in the debate:
- Need for further training for health and social care professionals. Ideally, when someone is admitted as a resident to a care home, oral needs should be considered as part of their health assessment. Oral health checks should be included in the resulting care plans. Oral care training for staff in hospitals is highlighted as important.
- Need to ensure that older people can access dental health services when needed. Attending a dental appointment can be a challenge for those with reduced mobility, requiring a domiciliary dental visit. This can be especially challenging for those living in care homes or supported housing.
- Need for current data. The last adult dental health survey was conducted in 2009. Historically they have occurred every 10 years since 1968.
- Regulation needs to be examined. The Care Quality Commission in England does not explicitly look at oral health during its inspections of hospitals and care homes.
- The Government’s expected Social Care Green Paper needs to set out how social care and dental services will work together in the future.
Mr Selous queried Steve Brine MP, under Secretary of State for Primary Care and Public Health whether programmes like Mouth Care Matters will be replicated in other parts of the country. Mr Brine responded that the Mouth Care Matters programme has been very successful in Kent, Surrey and Sussex using Mouth Care leads and was hopeful that Heath Education England would continue this work.
In 2019, Mouth Care Matters continues to engage with Trusts throughout England and is pleased to offer further training to interested Trusts.