CQC calls for improvements to oral health in care homes - Alzheimer's Society comment

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has today published the findings of an in-depth review on the state of oral health care in care homes across England.

The review draws on one hundred inspections of care homes on which CQC inspectors were accompanied by inspectors from dental regulation. It reveals that three years on from the publication of NICE guidance on oral health in care homes, steps are often not being taken to ensure that people get the oral health care they need to ensure that they are pain-free and that their dignity is respected.

Sally Copley, Director of Policy and Campaigns at Alzheimer’s Society, which developed a Dementia Friendly Dentistry Guide to address oral health in dementia, said:

'Mouth pain can have a huge impact on people with dementia, and can lead people to stop eating completely.

Looking after a person with dementia’s oral health is vital, especially in the advanced stages when they might have trouble communicating if something is wrong, or if they are in pain, and where they may have other symptoms that affect their ability to eat or drink.

'Following on from our work with the Faculty of General Dental Practice and CQC in developing a Dementia-Friendly Dentistry Guide, it’s great to see the CQC shining a light on poor practice in care homes to drive up standards. From the report, it’s shocking that nearly half of care home staff haven’t had any training in oral healthcare, and that people affected by dementia are struggling to access dental care they are entitled to. Poor support for people with dementia is symptomatic of our underfunded care system, which is why we’re calling for a £2.4bn Dementia Fund to improve care quality.

'We urge Skills for Care, Health Education England and Skills for Health to take up the recommendation to introduce a mandatory oral health component in the Care Certificate – it would have a huge impact on so many people with dementia across the country, who may be suffering silently, and unnecessarily, from mouth pain.'