Graduation Date

5-2015

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Occupational Therapy

Department or Program

Occupational Therapy

Department or Program Chair

Ruth Ramsey, Ed.D., OTR/L

First Reader

Eira Klich-Heartt, DNP, RN, CNS, CNL

Second Reader

Julia Wilbarger, Ph.D., OTR/L

Third Reader

Ruth Ramsey, Ed.D., OTR/L

Abstract

Based on current literature, oral health in long-term care (LTC) facilities is frequently of low priority and does not follow evidence-based best practices. Poor oral health reduces the quality of life of older adult residents and patients and can lead to systemic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, and pneumonia, the leading cause of death in LTC. Occupational therapists can play an instrumental role as oral care consultants, and educators, and can act as resource guides to raise the standards of oral care in LTC facilities.

This capstone project explored ways in which occupational therapy, a profession traditionally designated for interventions targeting activities of daily living (ADL), can improve oral care in LTC facilities. The proposed solution was a comprehensive toolkit to equip occupational therapists to assist LTC facilities in the implementation of an evidence-based oral care delivery system. The toolkit contained information and forms to establish necessary support structures for oral care, such as evidence-based policy and practices, documentation, educational in-service materials, and a list of specialized skills unique to occupational therapy. During the implementation phase, the project was modified to meet the needs of the project facility. The project became a site-specific educational in-service to improve the daily oral-care delivery of the certified nurse assistants, which was measured for its short and long-term effects. Results indicated that educational in-services may help improve oral care delivery in LTC facilities. The project team recommends that future projects include the complete oral care toolkit, including the educational in-services, and a tracking tool to further promote evidence-based oral care delivery in LTC facilities.