Evidence suggests that oral health can deteriorate when people are in hospital. Many health care professionals may have had no previous training on how to support patients with cleaning mouths and dentures.
Mouth Care Matters seeks to address this, focusing on four core principles:
Knowledge – provide staff/carers with knowledge of why mouth care is so important
Skills – ensure staff/carers are skilled to provide good mouth care
Access – patients have access to effective mouth care products
Support – Staff/carers/patients have support from staff with enhanced oral health skills
The project was developed at Easy Surrey Hospital under the leadership of a Special Care Dental Consultant. A small team of dental care professionals were recruited to work on the wards, seeing first-hand what the problems were and developing solutions.
In 2016/17 Mouth Care Matters was implemented in 12 trusts across Kent, Surrey and Sussex. Each trust received funding to employ a Mouth Care Matters Lead for 12 months responsible for leading the initiative. This year, HEE were able to offer 30 trusts in England a two-day train the trainers programme.
The project has been evaluated through a series of audits, surveys, case reports and focus groups. A health economics report was conducted by the Kent, Surrey and Sussex Academic Health Science Network and found significant financial benefits as a result of improving oral health.