Collaboration against mouth problems in frail elderly living at home

In the project ‘Multidisciplinary diagnosis of frail elderly in the home situation’, a collaboration was established between dental practices, nursing homes, home care organisations, dieticians, geriatricians and the geriatric psychiatry department of the Jeroen Bosch Hospital. The elderly themselves are also involved. The aim of the collaboration is to diagnose oral problems in elderly people living at home in a timely manner and to be able to treat them more adequately with various care providers. The project was carried out under the leadership of Peter de Goede, a dentist-geriatrician and ambassador of the ‘Don’t forget the mouth’ foundation.

More attention to oral health

More attention has been paid to the relationship between oral health and general health among healthcare professionals. One aspect that the project has focused on is to make network members aware of the relationship between oral problems and malnutrition in the elderly. Poor oral health increases the risk of malnutrition. Malnutrition is a problem that is more obvious to many healthcare professionals than oral problems.

Diagnostics and advice

Moreover, it was often unclear to both the elderly and dentists what treatment was necessary, possible and, above all, desirable. A well-run national consultation hour “elderly and oral care” has started with KBO Brabant. This is a consultation hour held by geriatric dentists aimed at diagnosing oral problems in the elderly and advising dentists and the elderly about adequate treatment of the problems.

Through the multidisciplinary collaboration, more use is made of such consultations aimed at diagnosis and advice by geriatric dentists for dentists and the elderly. Problems can be treated more adequately this way. It is positive that NZA and the Zorginstituut have determined that consultations aimed at diagnostics can be reimbursed from the basic insurance. The method is now being taught at the University of Amsterdam.

Dissemination of the multidisciplinary method

The multidisciplinary collaboration appears to be a good solution for involving healthcare providers from other disciplines in diagnosing oral problems in frail elderly. A similar network has now also been set up in Limburg aimed at identifying, diagnosing and advising on oral problems in elderly people living at home. For those who want to learn more about the multidisciplinary approach, 2 webinars are available for everyone free of charge.

By: National Care Guide

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