Benefitting from being in the spotlight: Oral health care at Saint-Louis Residence
As we age, we become more susceptible to plaque build-up, tooth decay, gum infection and sores. These conditions increase the risk of bacterial disease. In turn, improved oral care improves quality of life, reduces the incidence of pneumonia and lowers health care costs.
Oral health has received lots of attention at Saint-Louis Residence (SLR). We are collaborating with La Cité’s Dental Hygiene program and with the Bruyère Centre for Learning, Research and Innovation (CLRI). In 2014, we jointly validated in French the Oral Health Assessment Tool. This tool is now available to francophone long-term care (LTC) homes, together with an animated video, available in English and French, that presents to staff and caregivers why oral care is important.
These activities laid the ground for the adoption of best practices around oral health. Using the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario’s (RNAO) Oral Care Best Practice Guidelines, we are focusing on consistent and high quality assessment of residents’ oral health and care needs. Since the fall, La Cité’s third year dental hygiene students support our staff through academic placements. Teachers, students and our staff discuss new techniques and the realities of oral care in LTC homes. The placements are also valuable for future dental hygienists keen to build their skills to serve LTC residents.
To better understand the benefits of partnering with an academic dental hygiene program, our team reviewed different student placement models in Ontario and around the world. We found a gap in existing literature: most studies focus on the experiences of students and dental hygiene programs. Much less is known about the perspectives of LTC homes, families and residents, and what they think of dental hygiene students in LTC homes.
Our partnership with La Cité and the CLRI has been a success! Our staff’s capacity to deliver good oral care has improved. SLR is well on its way to becoming a RNAO Spotlight Organization. The student placements demonstrated the positive educational value of integrating dental hygiene students in LTC homes. And since January, SLR organized a new service: convenient and inexpensive denture labeling. Despite all efforts, dentures can get misplaced in homes. Labelling can help prevent denture loss so we negotiated with a dentist for a reduced-fee service delivered right to the residence.
Improving oral health in an LTC home starts with educating staff and families about the way oral health can impact a resident’s overall health and quality of life. We thank our staff champions for their hard work, which is key to building this awareness. We will continue to use the reliable tools available on the CLRI website and benefit from the knowledge of students and academics. Together we will continue to improve staff ability to identify oral care problems and step in before significant oral health issues occur.
Please contact Joanne Marin at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 613-562-6262, ext. 2512 to learn more about the denture labelling service at SLR.