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Implementation of oral health recommendations into two residential aged care facilities in a regional Australian city

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Abstract Background 

Residents of aged care facilities usually have a large number of oral health problems. Residents who suffer from dementia are at particular risk. A systematic review of the best available evidence with regard to maintaining the oral health of older people with dementia in residential aged care facilities provided a number of recommendations. Objectives 

The aim of the implementation project was to introduce evidence-based oral hygiene practices for patients with dementia in two publicly funded residential aged care facilities and monitor for changes in nursing awareness, knowledge, documentation and practice to improve patient outcomes and ensure appropriate accreditation standards were met. An additional aim was to identify barriers and strategies to overcome barriers to implementation of evidence-based recommendations. Methods 

Two facilities, a 40-bed facility and a 71-bed facility in the health service district of the regional Australian city of Toowoomba, provided the setting. A quality improvement approach was taken, using a number of strategies from the National Health and Medical Research Council guidelines for implementation studies. The implementation involved a number of stages, including project development, interactive oral health education, oral audits of residents, changes to oral hygiene practice via care plans and critical reflection. Results 

The multidisciplinary approach to improving oral healthcare appeared to improve knowledge and awareness and move oral health practices in facilities closer to best practice. Specialised training in oral health was provided to a Clinical Nurse Consultant. Regular oral audits were introduced and facility staff were trained in the use of the oral audit tool. Care plans at one facility were of better quality and more comprehensive than before the intervention. Comments made during critical reflection suggested improvements in the oral health of residents, increased use of oral swabs and saliva substitutes, improved care of dentures and mention of the use of mouth props in resident care plans. There was also some evidence that changes brought about by the implementation are sustainable. Conclusion 

The majority of recommendations provided in the systematic review of oral healthcare for dementia patients were applicable to the applied context. The importance of day-to-day leaders was highlighted by the apparently varied outcomes across target facilities. The quality improvement approach would appear to have considerable advantages when applied to improving practice in residential aged care.
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Keywords: aged care; evidence-based practice; implementation; multidisciplinary

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Centre for Rural and Remote Area Health, University of Southern Queensland, 2: Australian Centre for Rural and Remote Evidence-Based Practice, Joanna Briggs Institute, 3: Nursing Research Centre, Bluecare, University of Queensland 4: Oral Health Unit, Toowoomba Health Service District, 5: Mt Lofty Heights Aged Care Facility, Toowoomba Health Service District, and

Publication date: 2006-09-01

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