Increased Focus on Oral Health by CQC

Although the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guideline on Oral Health for Adults in Care Homes was first published in 2016, feedback from recent inspections shows that the CQC is increasingly focusing on this document to monitor how oral health is managed and supported in care services.

The NICE guideline covers oral health, including dental health and daily mouth care, for adults living in care homes with the aim of maintaining and improving their oral health and ensuring prompt access to dental treatment where needed. Taking a comprehensive approach to improving oral care, the guideline’s recommendations relate to the availability of specific oral health policies, assessments and care plans as well as staff knowledge and skills and access to local dental services.

CQC inspectors will expect all care home managers to be aware of this guidance and be able to show they have taken action to address its recommendations. Read on to learn more and be ready at your next inspection.

Oral Health

NICE guideline (NG48) Oral health for adults in care homes, is available to download from the NICE website and also includes a number of useful tools you can use to improve oral health within your service. These include a useful ‘quick guide’ to improving oral health that can be useful by all types of staff, an oral health assessment tool and links to relevant research to help improve knowledge in this important area of care. By using these tools alongside our own advice, you can ensure that you take an evidence-based approach to the oral health of your service users and have all the evidence you need to satisfy CQC at your inspection.

4 Steps to Adopt the NICE Oral Health Guideline 

  1. Oral health policy: You must ensure you have a comprehensive oral health policy in place which sets out plans and actions to promote service users’ oral health. This should include details of how to access to local dental services, arrangements for assessing oral health, implementing care plans to meet service users’ needs and the provision of daily mouth care including how you will support service users who refuse oral care.
  2. Assessment and care plans: The guideline recommends the assessment of all service users’ oral health assessment on admission, regardless of their length of stay. It provides a link to a useful assessment tool produced by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare which you can download and print off for your own use.
  3. Daily mouth care: One of the most important recommendations within the guideline is the provision of daily mouth care as a minimum standard. You must provide all of your staff with appropriate training in this task and ensure they understand that mouth care is an integral part of daily personal care.
  4. Access to local dental services: Make it your priority to find out and share with your staff the details of local dental and oral health promotion services within your locality. These can vary greatly from area to area and may include both services provided by the NHS and private providers but should be recorded and made available for easy reference when required.

To find out more about the CQC’s priorities and how to pass inspections, subscribe to Care Quality Matters. Every month, we give you resources, template and practical advice to help you provide the highest standards of care.

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