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Oral care, loss of personal identity and dignity in residential care homes

Johnson, Ilona G., Morgan, Maria Z. ORCID: and Jones, Rhiannon J. 2023. Oral care, loss of personal identity and dignity in residential care homes. Gerodontology 40 (2) , pp. 200-206. 10.1111/ger.12633

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Objective The UK National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) 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, well-being and dignity.” The aim of this study was to explore residents' views and perspectives of dental care in care homes in order to understand how to deliver this care. Method Care homes were identified using care home inspection reports for Wales, the 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 healthcare 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. All prioritised privacy, pride and independence 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. Conclusion Whilst 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 to be able to provide appropriate oral care in accordance with guidance. Members of the dental team need to support carers to provide effective oral care, which allows dignified and effective care.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Dentistry
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 0734-0664
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 19 May 2022
Date of Acceptance: 28 March 2022
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2023 14:52

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