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Consultation on new oral health guidance for care homes

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence is asking for views until January 19 

A consultation has been launched regarding new guidance for care home staff on helping patients achieve good oral health.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) agreed earlier this year to create the advice in light of ongoing concerns about poor oral health and a rise in mouth cancers.

There are an estimated 3,836 nursing homes and 10,445 residential care homes in the UK, and between them they care for about 431,500 people, 43% of whom have dementia.

Studies have shown that patients with dementia often struggle to maintain good oral hygiene. For example, a survey by the British Dental Association in 2012 found inconsistency in the way care homes provide oral health care.  

Interviews with care home staff in the survey showed they had little or no understanding about the importance of oral health, particularly its impact on other health factors including mouth cancer, cardiovascular disease and aspiration pneumonia.

The draft NICE guidance contains recommendations such as: supporting residents to access appropriate dental care from registered providers; assessing residents’ mouth care needs within a week of admission, regardless of their length of stay; and establishing personalised care plans.

Also, NICE advises that staff receive training in the importance of oral health, and have knowledge of local services to help them promote and liaise with other health providers.

The consultation invites comments on the draft advice until January 19.  

The final guidance is expected to be published in July.

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