Calls in Oxfordshire for better access to dentistry in care homes

care homesHealthwatch Oxfordshire is calling for better access to dental treatment for residents in care home.

The calls come after a new report found a number of hurdles to accessing a dentist in care homes, including:

  • A lack of visiting NHS dentists
  • Poor access to dental surgeries
  • Lack of transport and staff to get to the dentist
  • A feeling by care home staff that dentists are unwilling to treat patients with dementia or with a learning disability.

‘Our research has shown that an alarmingly high proportion of care home residents never see a dentist,’ Rosalind Pearce, executive director of Healthwatch Oxfordshire, said.

‘This is unacceptable.

‘As a result, we will be asking a number of bodies, including NHS England Commissioners, the county council, Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group and the Oxfordshire Local Dental Committee, to take action.

‘Access to dentistry should be a fundamental right for everyone.

‘People living in care homes must not be excluded.’

Devastating impact

Dentists have called on the Government to properly fund dental services for residents in care homes.

At the Local Dental Committee (LDC) conference dentists claimed dental treatments should have the same priority as general health in care homes.

‘Good oral health is important for everyone, regardless of their age or circumstances,’ Joe Hendron, chair of the Local Dental Committees Annual Conference, said.

‘Being able to eat, communicate and socialise confidently all depend on maintaining a healthy mouth.

‘Looking after the healthcare needs of vulnerable adults is not simply an issue for care homes, and it shouldn’t be left to chance.

‘For far too long, treating NHS dentistry as an optional extra has robbed residents who could be our relatives, parents and grandparents of the dignity they deserve, with a devastating impact on their health and wellbeing.’

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