Improving oral health in care homes



Improving oral health in care homes 1

We follow the progress of Jackie Whiteley’s project to improve oral health in care homes after a recent roundtable discussion.

The Smile Revolution Growth Hub recently hosted an online roundtable discussion entitled ‘Improving oral health in care homes’. This drew together a number of dental professionals from around the world.

The intention of the forum was to explore and galvanise support for the further development of access to oral health care in care homes by asking the members to describe their own projects in the field and highlight further opportunities.

The event was facilitated by Victoria Wilson – founder of Smile Revolution – and supported by Philips. Victoria Wilson was joined by Smile Revolution Growth Hub members; Jackie Whiteley, dental hygienist, past delegate of the Smile Revolution Oral Health Promotion course and existing member of the Smile Revolution Growth Hub Community, who is currently working on the developments of an oral health promotion project for care homes; Jane Peterson, director of training and services at Knowledge Oral Health Care; John M Cutter – president of Teethcloud, USA; and Sonya Dunbar, dental hygienist and founder of the Geriatric Foothfairy, USA.

Improving oral health in care homes

According to the roundtable organisers it was a highly productive collaborative discussion. Everyone present had the opportunity to introduce themselves. They then went on to describe the oral health in care home projects they were working on.

Delegates agreed that for an oral care service to be effective yet sustainable it would need adoption as an attractive paid-for job role for dental care professionals.

The group also felt that the opportunity to increase access to oral health care could come through relatives.

In the US, Sonya Dunbar works on a project to target the families of people in care homes. She advised that the uptake was good and that family members wanted involvement in the provision of care. They wanted the best service possible for their relative.

Market research carried out by Jackie Whiteley, through Facebook and patient support groups, backs this up. Through this she contacted and interviewed a number of family members about the mouth care of their relatives. They all found it lacking, poor or non-existent. They were very concerned at the possible consequences of this.

First-hand experience

On reflection Jackie feels in a better position to take her ideas forward. She feels she can progress after exploring options with other providers taking part in the roundtable.

She comments: ‘I think it is of great value that I start with spending more time in a care home working with residents and getting first-hand experience of the challenges. Especially caring for residents with dementia.

‘In this way I will gain credibility and experience and can build my service based around what I find. I am aware that current winter restrictions may be inhibitive in terms of visiting care homes. But will aim to progress my project and also look into setting up an online oral health hub focusing on oral care in care homes. This will act as a platform for carers and healthcare professionals to access information, resources and support.’

Smile Revolution’s Victoria Wilson adds: ‘Through forming such active collaborative roundtables, discussions are able to move forward on specific areas of care. Many offer support for the development of the projects and insights from other professionals working within similar fields in dentistry provide fresh insights.

‘This is a highly productive opportunity to advance the collaborative work of the dental profession in serving global oral health improvements.’

Dental professionals who have a special interest in care homes or who would like to share more ideas with Jackie Whitely are invited to get in touch with Victoria Wilson (

All respondents will go into a prize draw to win a Sonicare toothbrush, courtesy of Philips Oral Healthcare. Philips has supported Smile Revolution and Jackie’s project from the onset.