The Gwên am Byth programme has seen carers at Bron Haul residential care home in Rhyl receive training in oral health, helping residents at the home to stay on top of their dental hygiene.
At Bron Haul, members of staff have received training from the Health Board’s Community Dental Service team. One of the carers, 21 year old Kim Owen from Meliden, has also been appointed as the home’s dental champion, to oversee the mouth care provided for residents.
The training helps staff to pass on good oral health practices to residents at the home, and also helps them to spot signs of potential oral health issues such as dental decay, gum problems, or even mouth cancer.
Improved oral health has been found to have a positive effect on other aspect of residents’ health – with improved confidence helping prevent social isolation.
Research also shows that improved oral health has a positive effect on a number of other conditions, including heart disease, endocarditis, stroke prevention, rheumatoid arthritis and lung condition
The scheme has seen staff in 16 residential homes in Denbighshire receive training, as well as in a number of other locations in Gwynedd and Flintshire. The Gwên am Byth programme is now being rolled out across elsewhere in north Wales as part of a national drive to improve the oral health of older care home residents
Debbie Williams, manager of Bron Haul, said: “The change we’ve seen in some of our residents has been incredible.
“We’ve seen people who were quite reserved and quiet really come out of their shells thanks to the confidence having better teeth has given them. We’ve seen a huge change in people like Mark and Jean’s whole outlook on life.
“The work Kim and the rest of our staff have put in has been brilliant, and the support from Angela and the rest of the community dental team has been invaluable.
“Knowing there’s a friendly voice at the end of the phone to offer further support is really reassuring for our staff.
One of those residents, Jean Collin, said the additional support had changed her life.
Jean said: “I think the extra care we get from staff is absolutely brilliant.
“It’s made such a difference to me – it’s made me feel like a completely different person. I used to have terrible teeth, but the extra care I’ve had from both the staff and through community dental has changed my life.”
Mark Heaton, another resident at Bron Haul, added: “I only used to brush my teeth once a day and now I’m brushing more regularly.
“I also have Kim to support me when the dentist visits. Before this programme I never used to see the dentist.”
Angela Walmsley, Dental Health Educator for the Denbighshire area, supports the Care Homes and their residents by providing training and care plans to assist the residents in achieving optimal oral health.
Angela said: “It makes me proud to be able to teach the care staff and dental champions skills which empower them to improve the oral health of their clients.”
“I’ve especially seen how the dental champions develop in confidence to become an integral part of the Gwên am Byth dental health team.”
Sian Chelton, Dental Health Promotion Manager, said: “Examples like Bron Haul show how important schemes such as Gwên am Byth are, in supporting good oral hygiene among a traditionally difficult to reach group of people.
“We are really proud of the efforts the team have made to support residents and carers through the Gwên am Byth programme.
“Evidence shows that poor oral hygiene is linked to heart disease, stroke, endocarditis and poor lung condition. We’ve also heard from residents here about how having better oral hygiene has given them a boost in confidence, which in turn helps improve their mental and social wellbeing.”