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Oral care, loss of identity and dignity in care homes

Johnson, Ilona, Jones, Rhiannon and Morgan, Maria ORCID: 2017. Oral care, loss of identity and dignity in care homes. Presented at: IADR/AADR/CADR General Session, San Francisco, California, 25 March 2017.

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Objectives: UK guidelines recommend that care staff who provide daily personal care to residents: 'Understand the importance of residents' oral health and the potential effect on their general health, wellbeing and dignity.' This study aimed to explore care home residents’ views and perspectives of dental care in care homes. Methods: Care homes were identified using care home inspection reports for Wales, UK. Care homes for older people with residents having mental capacity to consent were invited to participate. Data were collected using semi-structured one-to-one interviews with care home residents, care home managers and oral health care leads. Interviews were audio recorded, transcribed and analysed using a thematic approach to data. Analysis was assisted by NVivo 10 software. Data collection was completed when no new themes emerged. Results: This analysis presents findings from 26 interviews with residents, across five care homes. Going into care was associated with a loss of identity. Having teeth and looking after teeth (natural teeth or dentures) was part of keeping that identity. Privacy, pride and independence were prioritised over and above effective oral hygiene. Oral hygiene was viewed as a very private event. Carers adapted oral care, to balance time constraints, care, privacy and dignity. Teeth were a part of personal pride to the extent that two residents said they did not want to die without dentures in their mouths. Conclusions: While oral care is important to residents, dignity and privacy are often more important; care routines and practices are adapted around this. Carers need to adopt an individualised, pragmatic and sensitive approach to oral care to account for personal dignity when looking after residents. Members of the dental team need to support carers to provide effective oral care which allows dignified and effective care.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Dentistry
Funders: GSK
Last Modified: 23 Oct 2022 13:04

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