Mouth Care Without a Battle: Improving Oral Health Care for Older Adults in Nursing Homes
Special Projects Fund
April 4, 2017
Poor oral health—which is linked to pneumonia and can lead to hospitalization, intensive care, or death—is a rising issue for elderly people living in nursing homes.
In particular, nursing home residents with dementia experience limited quality and frequency of oral health care because nursing home staff often feel that they are not adequately prepared to manage difficult behaviors that typically arise during care of these patients. Mouth Care Without a Battle (MCWB) is an evidence-based approach to daily mouth care (e.g., tooth brushing, flossing, care of the gums, and denture care) for people with cognitive and physical impairments. Combining best practices in dementia care and oral hygiene, the pilot program has shown improvements in health and overall quality of life for this population. In 2017, NYSHealth awarded Foundation for Quality Care (FQC) a grant to scale up MCWB so as to improve oral health care for nursing home patients with dementia.
Under this grant, FQC implemented and enhanced MCWB in 24 nursing home facilities in Syracuse, Buffalo, and Long Island, as well as established an advisory board of oral health experts and stakeholders. Specifically, FQC recruited and trained dental hygienists to work with all participating nursing homes on the program’s implementation, data collection, policy and procedure development, and sustainability. In addition, FQC established and trained a team of medical and nursing home staff at each facility, who then trained the rest of the staff on how to properly carry out MCWB. To disseminate the program’s results and resources and plan for further replication, FQC hosted a statewide conference in partnership with the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy. FQC also collaborated with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to conduct an evaluation of the program, with expert guidance from the advisory board.