NHS community infection control team helps care home residents improve oral health and hydration – North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust

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Elderly people at a care home in Teesside are improving their oral health and hydration – thanks to the support of an NHS infection control team.

Infection nurse with care home staff in garden areaThe infection control service at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust has been working closely with Millbeck Care Home in Norton.

Specialist infection control nurse Gill Roberts has been providing support to both staff and residents.

As part of a pilot initiative, five residents were supported – with all showing significant health benefits over the course of a few weeks.

Gill said: “The aim was to train staff and educate residents about the importance of good oral care as well as regularly drinking fluids.

“As part of this, I ensured all staff had training and that residents had an oral health assessment and mouth care plan.

“Staff provided residents with daily support to meet their oral needs – including keeping daily records of mouth care provided including if someone refused to brush their teeth and the action taken as a result.”

Gill provided residents with different toothbrushes, drinks and drinking vessels, dependent on the individual needs of the residents.

Gill added: “The impact of poor oral health and hydration can be very serious.

“Older people are more vulnerable to dehydration – and not drinking enough can cause issues such as constipation, sore skin and pressure ulcers and issues like dizziness and low blood pressure which can increase the risk of having a fall.”

Infection control nurse and care home project lead stood holding hamperWith the help of Emma McCairns from the care home, Gill has also provided documents to staff to help assess residents – including a fluid monitoring chart.

Gill said: “All of the residents involved have shown clear signs of improvement – some have gone from being against any oral care to brushing their teeth twice a day.

“The steps we have taken and the work the staff have done has helped residents involved double their fluid intake.

“Staff embraced the new changes during the project and we all feel it has had long term benefits on the patients involved.”

Due to the project, the care home now action plans set out to promote and protect oral health and access dental services and regular training for staff.

Gill recently presented staff with a hamper full of goods to raffle off – all money raised will go towards a fund for the residents.

Debbie Dowd, care home manager, said: “Thank you to Gill for her fantastic support and expertise – it has really made a significant impact for her residents.”


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