The overall aim of Mouth Care Matters is to empower staff through training and education, to identify patients that need help with mouth care and ensure it is delivered in a safe and compassionate way.
- What is Mouth Care Matters?
Mouth Care Matters (MCM) is a Heath Education England initiative to improve the oral health of patients in hospital through education and training.
In 2015 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 (KSS). Each trust received funding from Health Education England to employ a Mouth Care Matters Lead for 12 months, They were responsible for leading and implementing the initiative at their trust.
Following the success across KSS, further training was delivered to trusts across England to enable them to implement the programme in their trusts. To date Mouth Care Matters have delivered training to over 100 trusts.
- Why does Mouth Care Matter?
Supporting patients with regular mouth care is a fundamental part of care that has frequently been identified as neglected and needing improvement (http://www.mouthcarematters.hee.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/171025-Standardising-the-delivery-of-oral-health-care-practice-in-hospitals.pdf).
Good mouth care contributes to good oral health. Oral health is an important part of general health and well being. It allows people to eat, speak and socialise without discomfort or embarrassment. Hospitalisation is associated with a deterioration of oral health in patients. This in turn has been linked to an increase in hospital-acquired infections (such as hospital acquired pneumonia), poor nutritional uptake, longer hospital stays and increased care costs. Good oral health is also important for patient safety, dignity, and ability to communicate and is a key element of compassionate care.
Mouth Care Matters is based on four key themes; staff require the:
Knowledge of the links between oral health and general health and well-being
Skills gained through training on how to carry out mouth care and assessments of the mouth
Access to tools needed to provide effective mouth care such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, denture pots, and easy access to dry mouth gels.
Support when necessary from doctors/dentists/ staff with enhanced mouth care skills such as mouth care leads
- Who is responsible for Mouth Care?
Supporting patients with mouth care is the responsibility of EVERYBODY including all staff, carers and families. For example when moving a patient to another ward the porter could ask the patient “do you have all your personal belongings with you? – Have you got a denture or hearing aid?
The Hostess team may notice a patient is struggling to eat their food, It may be due to lost dentures or a sore painful mouth. By the hostess flagging this to the nursing staff this allows the patient to have a mouth assessment and be given any help if needed.
- How can I make a difference?
You can be the CEO of a trust who decides to fund a Mouth Care Specialist Nurse or a HCA on the ward championing mouth care, everyone can make a difference.
You don’t have to start big, we advise you to start small and focus on changing one thing at a time, it takes time for change to happen.
We have created a wide range of free resources which you can download from our website to enable you make a difference,
MCM Guide and Toolkit – both will guide you through the programme, covering products, Documentation, oral conditions to give you the basic knowledge and advice on how to implement the project.
- What are the benefits of Mouth Care Matters?
Outcomes for both staff and patients have been positive with improvements in mouth care recording and patient care benefiting both patients and staff working in Trusts. Following the scheme, one nursing assistant commented: “I have been a nursing assistant for over 10 years and have never had any mouth care training. I have learned so much like how to remove dried debris and how to suction the mouth, I never knew it could help prevent pneumonia.”
A daughter of a patient who benefited from the scheme said: “When my father was dying, his mouth became dry and really smelly, he was always really proud that he had all his own teeth. The nurse who cared for him had recently had training and showed the other nurses and ourselves how to help keep his mouth clean. We feel it made a big difference to how comfortable he was during his final days.”
In addition to improving patient care there are financial benefits. A health economics report into MCM at East Surrey Hospital found that, for every £1 invested, there was a saving of £2.66 in terms of fewer bed days, reduced number of prescriptions and GP visits. Social improvement has also been found with staff making positive changes to their oral hygiene habit and those of their families ( to view the report, clickhere).
To view a wide range of Mouth Care Matters resources for adults click here