Caregiver training improves oral care knowledge and skills

By Nancy Fickert
Lifepath Inc.

Oral hygiene is linked to the general health of individuals; therefore, this study supports the potential benefits from an education program of oral care for those diagnosed with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Caregivers who work in community living arrangements (CLA) or intermediate care facilities (ICF) are responsible for the oral hygiene of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). Oral hygiene training programs do not exist in many organizations despite concerns about the oral care of this population. Performing oral care on a person with I/DD is often difficult, especially if the individual is at risk for aspiration, or is unable to cooperate.

What did you do in your research?
Caregivers took a pre-test on their oral care knowledge. After the pre-test, they participated in an educational program that included live oral care demonstration. After the program, participants demonstrated the oral hygiene skills (brushing & flossing) on each other while being scored by a trained observer, and they completed post-test and the Oral Hygiene Skill survey. After 3-months participants took the same (2nd time) post-test on oral care knowledge, and the Oral Hygiene Skill Survey.

What did you find out?
Caregiver oral care education improved their knowledge, skills and compliance of oral hygiene immediately after the training and at 3 month follow up.

What are the take-home messages?
Caregivers that participated in the hands-on educational program improved oral care knowledge, skills, and compliance. This may decrease or prevent plaque, periodontal disease, which can lead to illness, and reduce the risks of choking or aspiration pneumonia in individuals with I/DD. Requiring caregiver training and individual oral care protocols would improve the overall health care of this vulnerable population. Providers serving individuals with I/DD could use this evidence to support the development of oral hygiene policies, and procedures specific to training and oral care performance in their organizations.

To learn more about these findings contact
Nancy Fickert.

Full Journal Article
Fickert, N., &Ross, D. (2012). Effectiveness of a Caregiver Education Program on Providing Oral Care to Individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. 50(3), 219–232.


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