A mouth care programme for people with dementia and swallowing problems

Research project: Is it feasible for the NHS to deliver a specialised mouth care programme for patients who have dementia and swallowing problems in an acute hospital?

Lead Investigator: Julie Pollock

  • Institution: Nottingham Healthcare NHS Trust
  • Grant type: Clinical Training Fellowship
  • Duration: 4 years
  • Amount: £174,293.86

Why did we fund this research?

Comments from our Research Network volunteers:

'My sister died from tongue cancer and struggled with a dirty mouth and severe swallowing difficulties, I would be thrilled to see an improvement in this aspect of care for people with dementia.'

Project summary

This project aims to develop and introduce a mouth care programme specifically for patients with dementia and swallowing problems. This will include finding the best way to train ward staff, people with dementia and carers, as well as identifying barriers for care.

This study will extend the research in the area, provide a specific mouth care programme and underpin a future large-scale study about the clinical benefits of the mouth care programme.

The background 

Aspiration pneumonia is the second most common type of infection acquired in hospital and the most common cause of death in end stage Alzheimer’s disease.

Mouth care is crucial to prevent this, but there is little research specifically focusing on people with dementia.

What does this project involve?

After an initial review of the current literature, a mouth care programme specifically designed for people with dementia and swallowing difficulties will be introduced onto hospital wards.

Interviews will be carried out with staff, patients and carers to see if it is feasible to implement in the NHS. 

How will this project help people with dementia?

The main goal of this project is to improve the quality of life and health outcomes for patients in hospital who have dementia and swallowing problems.

Results from this study will inform future changes in practice in NHS hospitals and help to support staff and carers to deliver mouth care.