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Crisis in care homes: the dentists don’t come

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Rakhee Patel, Mamoona Mian, Claire Robertson, Nigel B. Pitts, Jennifer E. Gallagher

Original languageEnglish
Article number20
JournalBDJ Open
Issue number1
PublishedDec 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright: © 2021, Crown. Copyright: Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

King's Authors


Aim/Objectives: To present the findings of the challenges relating to access to dental care for older people in care homes from the Fluoride Interventions in Care Homes (FInCH) Trial. Methods: Thematic analysis of 11 interviews / focus groups with care home managers and care staff were carried out against a framework informed by the literature drawing on lived experiences. Results: The challenges identified mapped to Penchanksy and Thomas’s (1981) five dimensions of access but also highlighted themes specifically relevant to the care home population. These include a lack of suitable services for routine and urgent domiciliary and clinic care, complex referral processes, operational challenges in the need for appropriate care chaperones, expectations of information for dental charge exemption and capacity / consent processes within the home. Discussion: There is a malalignment of dental services offered to meet the needs of care home residents which has resulted in a reactive dental care system that is not fit for purpose and an entire generation of older people living in care with dental neglect. Conclusion: Urgent action is needed to commission not only the appropriate quantities of both routine and urgent dental care, but ensure it is delivered by clinicians who are appropriately skilled to meet the high levels of dental needs in an increasingly medically and behaviourally complex care home population. In line with eye tests and prescribing at the very least, free routine dental examinations should be offered to all care home residents, creating the opportunity for advice and prevention, and enabling care home residents to function and be free of pain. Trial Registration: The FinCH Trial registration EudraCT number 2017-002248-34.

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