Care homes ‘are being deprived of dental services’

Care homes 'are being deprived of dental services'

A care home manager said it had become an ‘impossibility’ to get NHS dentists to visit residents when they need treatment. 

Speaking to BBC News, Liz Wynn, of Southminster Residential Home, Essex, said she had struggled for years to obtain on-site visits from dental teams.

She said the shortage of NHS community dentists available had been an ‘on-going concern’ for almost a decade.

NHS Mid and South Essex said it was considering a number of approaches to improve access.

Ms Wynn said that although teams do come in, ‘it takes a long time because they’re under so much demand’.

Access issues in care homes

A recent report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) found that one of the ‘strongest themes’ was the extreme challenge care home providers were having in accessing dental care for people.

In 2019, 6% of care home providers told the CQC that the people who used their services could ‘never’ access NHS dental care.

In 2022, this figure has sharply risen by more than four times to 25%.

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Recommended actions

The report set out a number of recommendations to improve oral care in care homes.

These include:

  • The Office for Health Improvement and Disparities include care home providers in future adult oral health surveys
  • Care home providers raise awareness of what people should expect when they enter a care home and their families. For example getting an oral health assessment on admission and how much treatment should cost
  • Updated guidance is developed to support dental professionals to treat people in care homes as well as care home staff to support people living in care homes
  • Commissioners promote cross-sector integration between care home and dental professionals and use funding to improve oral health in care homes.

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