Implementing Oral Care Practices and Policy Into Long-Term Care: The Brushing up on Mouth Care Project
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BACKGROUND: Optimal mouth care is integral to the health and quality of life of dependent older adults.Yet, a persistent lack of adequate oral care in long-term care (LTC) facilities exacerbates the burden of disease experienced by residents. The reasons for this are complex and create enormous challenges for care providers, clinicians, and administrators dedicated to comprehensive high quality care. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to develop, implement, and evaluate a comprehensive program for daily mouth care for LTC. DESIGN: A case study design using a participatory and qualitative approach examined how individual, organizational (workplace practices and culture), and system factors (standards and policy) influenced the development and implementation of a comprehensive program to improve the delivery of daily oral care in LTC. SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: The research was undertaken in 3 LTC residences administered under the same health authority and included personal care providers, nurse managers, and directors of care. INTERVENTION: A comprehensive program for care providers including, education, resources, and organizational guidelines, to improve the delivery of daily mouth care to LTC residents was created, rolled out, and refined over a 12-month period. MEASUREMENTS: Data was collected through diary studies, targeted interviews, field notes, oral care activities records, site team meetings, and direct feedback from members of the care team. RESULTS: The oral care intervention resulted in a heightened awareness, support and greater efficiency amongst care team. The presence of a "champion" was a key feature for sustaining processes. Management had a clear role to play to ensure support and accountability for the intervention. CONCLUSIONS: Optimizing oral care in long-term care can be achieved through an integrated approach that includes education, provision of resources, an oral care champion, support from managers and administrators, and appropriate organizational policy.
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