Main Article Content
Objective: To assess oral health knowledge, attitudes and behavior of personal oral health care among staff caring for the elders.
Background: Frail and elderly people with chronic illness depend on caregivers’ help for their oral health care.
Materials and Methods: A questionnaire was used to collect data from staffs of long-term care (LTC) facilities in large hospitals in Bangkok. The collected data included demographic characteristics, knowledge and attitudes towards oral health care, behaviors of participants towards their personal oral care and daily oral care provided for residents. The association between genders, educational levels, past training in elderly care and oral care, and job positions were also assessed.
Results: 135 caring staff of 6 hospitals participated in this study. The results indicated that the nurses had higher scores of knowledge than the other job positions, and educational level and job position showed significant difference of knowledge (P<0.05). Half of the participants were unaware of dental plaque and did not recognize that some medications affect salivation. The participants generally had positive attitudes towards oral health care; however, nearly 20% thought teeth could not be saved through life. Most participants had fair personal oral care. 90% reported that they performed oral care for residents and the difficulty in performing oral care was residents’ in-cooperation.
Conclusion: As nurses are the key persons to set guidelines of oral care and provide training for caring staff, this study suggested that nursing curricula should include oral health care teaching by dental personnel. Oral health education programme should be arranged periodically for both caring staff and elder persons. Therefore, the perception of oral care of residents may be changed. LTC facilities should develop policy related to daily oral care for residents and dental professions collaborate with LTC facilities to provide support to caring staff when indicated.
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