The Nova Scotia Department of Health and Wellness is paying attention to the expanding personal daily mouth care needs of people who depend on others to help with their care. Common oral diseases such as gum disease and dental caries (cavities) can have a large impact on overall health, on pain free eating, speaking and socializing. These conditions are almost entirely preventable when daily oral hygiene and regular oral care is available. Yet, provincial government standards for oral care within residential and homecare settings in Canada are inconsistent and sometimes lacking.
The Nova Scotia Long Term Care Program Requirements: Nursing Home & Residential Care Facilities (2016) are among provincial guidelines that have set out clear expectations and responsibilities for daily mouth care including mandatory periodic oral health assessments and care-planning. Brushing Up on Mouth Care resources are available to support these goals. If you are in Nova Scotia, see Section 6.6 (also outlined below) of the Long Term Care Program Requirements: Nursing Homes and Residential Care Facilities to more fully understand provincial standards to ensure that “Residents’ oral health is optimized through an effective mouth care regime”.
6.6 Oral Health
Outcome: Residents' oral health is optimized through an effective mouth care regime.
The Licensee shall ensure:
- An oral health assessment is initiated on admission and completed by staff within two weeks.
- Any risks related to oral status (such as pain, swelling, bleeding, broken or decayed teeth, debris and food particles) are documented on admission and monitored regularly by staff in order to initiate appropriate referrals to dental professionals, when required and desired by the resident or authorized designate, and to inform daily mouth care planning.
- Each resident has a daily mouth care plan that includes appropriate hygiene techniques and products to maintain oral cleanliness of natural teeth and/or dentures.
Many people who are dependent and living at home rely on the care of loved ones. Caregivers Nova Scotia provides resources and education to assist family and friend caregivers and to create awareness about the importance of oral health. Family members with an understanding of what is required to meet daily oral care needs will know what to expect should their loved ones transition to more formal continuing care settings.