Family and Friends: Supporting Oral Care in Care Homes
Objectives: UK guidelines recommend that care home “residents and their families or friends (if they are involved in the resident's care) are aware of care home policies to promote health and wellbeing, including mouth care”. The aim of this study was to explore care home residents’ views and perspectives of dental care in care homes. This analysis focussed on the role of family and friends in supporting oral care.
Methods: Care home inspection reports for Wales, UK were used to identify care homes for older people. Homes for people with mental capacity to consent were invited to participate. Semi-structured one-to-one interviews with care home residents, managers and oral health leads were used to collect data. A thematic methodological approach was used for the study and all interviews were audio recorded and transcribed. Analysis was assisted by NVivo 10 software. Data collection stopped when no new themes emerged.
Results: 26 interviews with residents and four staff across five care homes were included in this analysis. Family and friends featured in all interviews. For most, residents, family and friends took primary support roles for oral care including, shopping for oral care products, making dental appointments and driving residents to dental care services. Family members also actively encouraged care home staff to support oral care. Most often, this role was undertaken by daughters. Care staff stepped in when this support was not available.
Conclusions: Family and friends, most often daughters have a primary role in actively encouraging and supporting oral care and access to treatment. Care staff need to actively help residents who do not have family and friends to support their oral health and care. Policies, training and services need to acknowledge and support these roles.