The aim of this pilot study was to train carers to provide oral care for adults with disabilities and to evaluate the training programme. Forty-one carers of 103 care recipients from three disability organisations in South Australia were trained in providing oral care for adults with disabilities (April 2013–April 2014). The training included an oral presentation and practical session by a special needs dentist on completing oral health assessments (OHA), developing oral healthcare plans, providing oral hygiene care and assessing the need for dental referral. Continued support was provided via home visits by dental hygienists for the first 2 months and a dentist visit at 3 months. At 6 months, agreement on OHAs between the dentist and trained carers was assessed. Pre- and post-training questionnaires (at 6 months) collected information on dental behaviours of carers and psychosocial factors: carer activation measure-knowledge (CAM-Knowledge), carer activation measure-skills (CAM-Skills), carer activation measure-confidence (CAM-Confidence) and carer dental efficacy (CDE) items (carer diligence, self-efficacy and priority). Post-training (among 16 retained carers), there were significant increases in the mean scores of CAM-Knowledge and CAM-Confidence, but not for CAM-Skills (paired-samples t-tests, α = 0.05). Per cent agreement of CDE items varied little between questionnaires. Carer–dentist agreement on OHAs was generally high with kappa values ranging from 0.63 for the assessment of gums to 1.0 for the assessment of tongue, roof of mouth, denture and dental pain. Further, carers were able to assess the need for referral of their care recipients’ oral health similar to the dentist. These findings suggest that with combined theoretical and practical training and continued support, non-dental professionals like carers can improve their knowledge and confidence in providing oral care for adults with disabilities. However, the findings of this pilot study need to be confirmed by further research in a larger study.
- oral care
- psychosocial factors
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
- Sociology and Political Science
- Health Policy
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health