The elderly are becoming a bigger share of the population and more older people still have their own teeth. Elderly people who need municipal care are also on the rise and this places demands on nursing staff to have the skills needed to assess and care for the oral health of the elderly. Performing oral care is not an easy task, as it can be perceived as an invasion of privacy. Neglected oral health can also lead to poorer overall health. It is possible to prevent poor oral health with small means such as daily oral care.
Previous research shows however that oral health has low priority and that nursing staff would like to be get some training. One way of increasing nursing staff skills is to offer smart solutions for training efforts. This project investigates whether a digitised training course in oral health has any impact on nursing staff skills in and attitudes towards assessing, identifying problems and caring for the oral health of older people.
Can digital training impact nursing staff’s knowledge?
Specifically, we intend to examine whether a digital training course in oral health can impact nursing staff’s knowledge, attitudes and preventive measures when they assess oral health as well as perform oral care in elderly people. Even if oral hygiene is an important part of nursing care, oral care often has a peripheral role in nursing care of the elderly and needs to have higher priority. Oral health is not something that nursing staff routinely ask about when they are assessing the care needs of the elderly. Consequently, oral health is not assessed regularly or in any structured way. It has been demonstrated that one obstacle to good oral health is a lack of knowledge among nursing staff. Skills development for nursing staff can be difficult to implement and often only a few have the opportunity to get training in spite of the fact that there is a need for these skills among all nursing staff.
Developed digital training course
One way of developing the skills of all nursing staff could be through a digital training course. In this project, a digital training course in oral health has been developed in cooperation with dentists, nurses and a training company. Its digital format makes it accessible at any time and any place. After the end of the course, nursing staff will receive certification as oral health assessors and the residential care home will receive oral health certification. The certification is then valid for one year and may be renewed by repeating the training. The experimental subjects in the project consist of all nursing staff (n=100) who work in a residential care home within municipal care. With the aid of surveys, interviews, the Revised Oral Assessment Guide (ROAG) and measures entered in the Senior Alert register, nursing staff skills, attitudes, assessment of oral health and preventive measures will be monitored for one year. The functionality of the digital training course will also be evaluated.