Dental Public Health Activities: Descriptive Summaries
Oral Health for Caregivers
To address workforce development and access to dental care challenges, Washington Dental Service Foundation (WDSF) staff and clinical specialists developed a curriculum titled “Oral Health for Caregivers”. It provides critical oral health information for paid and family caregivers who care for community-dwelling older adults – to improve the oral health of both care recipients and caregivers. The goal is to ensure oral care is included every day as part of the routine care delivered to clients and that clients receive dental services when needed. With an emphasis on prevention, the interactive demonstrations, visuals, and printed materials introduce oral health in an easy-to-understand format that can be used to educate caregivers. The curriculum was initially developed in 2007 and updated in 2011 and provides the latest information for a high-quality continuing education learning opportunity.
Key components of the trainings include:
WDSF offers continuing education training in a variety of formats for a diverse workforce of professionals. Trainings are presented by contractors with expertise with the target audiences and WDSF pays their fees. Training models include:
All trainings and materials are provided free of charge to Washington residents (a small fee – approximately $50-100 – is applied for out-of-state participants).
A 2008 evaluation* demonstrated that the oral health curriculum changes how caregivers provide oral care to their clients, their families, and themselves. It showed that trained caregivers are much more likely to provide direct assistance with oral health care to clients than untrained caregivers. This assistance includes:
*Complete printed evaluation available upon request, or can be viewed here.
Currently, WDSF is expanding its educational outreach to include family caregivers caring for loved ones with dementia and for kinship families (mostly grandparents raising grandchildren).
In partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association Oral Care Cards for Caregivers was produced in 2015. Using research-based strategies provided by Dr. Rita Jablonski from University of Alabama, Birmingham, 15 simple techniques are illustrated and described for caregivers to more effectively assist with or provide oral care for those with dementia. Already, over 5,000 guides have been distributed in both English and Spanish language versions.
A number of lessons have been learned along the way. Primarily that the training delivery program must be flexible – in scope, in length, and in delivery. It’s also critical that the courses are endorsed by the appropriate credentialing entities so that attendees can obtain continuing education credits to put toward their annual requirement.
It’s been encouraging to see the enthusiasm from workshop attendees at all levels. There is a genuine interest in the content and an urgency that is sparked once caregivers understand the important impact oral health has on their clients’ overall health.
Contact Person(s) for Inquiries:
Karen Lewis, Senior Program Officer, Washington Dental Service Foundation, PO Box 75983, Seattle, WA 98175, p. 206-528-7344, f. 206-985-4837, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dianne Riter, Program Manager, Washington Dental Service Foundation, PO Box 75983, Seattle, WA 98175, Telephone: 206-729-5507, Fax: 206-795-0476, Email:email@example.com