Removal of all patient charges for NHS dental care for all those in receipt of a state pension.
All those noted as requiring domiciliary care by their GP should have an automatic referral to local domiciliary dental services.
All those entering a care home to have an oral health assessment by a trained dental professional.
Regular training for care home staff on oral health maintenance.
A joined up system where care homes are linked to dental practices.
An independent review into oral health care for older adults with actionable recommendations which are reviewed annually to drive improvements to care.
What is the problem?
Older adult oral health is often neglected by policy makers.
Older adult oral health often suffers as a result of reduced mobility, reduced motor function, high level of restorative care, concern over patient charges and a reliance on carers.
Older adults in care or with other conditions such as dementia, may have trouble communicating that they have an oral health issue such as ill fitting dentures; Oral health issues for this cohort can have significant effects such as malnutrition leading to avoidable falls and hospital admission which can in turn lead to contracting aspiration pneumonia.
Older adults living independently, but alone, may also not prioritise oral health for a variety of reasons; This can exacerbate isolation if they cannot eat, speak or socialise without difficulty.
There are insufficient domiciliary services commissioned to meet need and referral into the service is not straightforward.
Older adults are not automatically exempt from NHS dental patient charges, which can cause problems for care homes who do not have access to finance.
The current contractual system does not support the provision of domiciliary care or reflect the additional time and care that many older adults will require.