Can digital support be beneficial for elderly people’s oral health?
This is a PhD-student project that studies whether quality of life, health and nutrition in elderly people can benefit from health care staff receiving online training on how to asses and identify signs of abnormalities in the oral cavity.
We see a continued increase in the number of elderly people in society, and more elderly people still have their own teeth. Ageing and diseases increase the risks for oral problems. Dry mouth is a common adverse effect from medication. A weak oral health increases the risk of pneumonia and cardiovascular disease.
The number of elderly people who need care from the municipalities is increasing, and many will need help with their oral health. Assessing oral health needs may not be part of a routine check-up. Often times, the person receiving care is responsible for his or her own oral health, or, the evaluation may be delegated to unqualified staff. Oral care evaluations performed by unqualified staff may lead to a number of consequences from a health care perspective, and, more significantly, for the health and well-being of the elderly person.
Heath care organisations may find it challenging to provide professional development for its employees. Only a few may be offered an opportunity for education, however, all employees need it. One possible strategy for professional development is to offer a support system via web-based education that is easily accessible for the health care units, and through which the employees can obtain an oral health evaluation certification.
Oral health evaluation in retirement homes
In the project, several employees at retirement homes will receive education to obtain an oral health evaluation certification via a web-based education. By using surveys and interviews, we will study if and how the education affects the employees' ability to make oral health evaluations, and whether the number of observed deviations in oral health increased. In addition, we will follow up on how the elderly persons perceive taste, their appetite, ability to speak, weight, and general health.