The COVID-19 pandemic increased the demands on nursing staff and resulted in many calls to our OMFS service regarding complaints related to basic mouth care. The aim of this audit was to assess the knowledge of nursing staff in relation to oral hygiene and mouthcare in COVID-19 inpatients.
Materials and Methods
Questionnaires were distributed to COVID-19 ICUs and wards during a two-week period. Responses were measured against standards relating to Public Health England guidance on providing mouth care in COVID-19 patients. After the initial audit, teaching sessions were implemented, and materials delivered to support delivery of these standards. A re-audit was then conducted in using the previous questionnaire design.
Awareness of the PHE guidance increased from 26% (13/50) in the initial audit to 87% (26/30) in the reaudit. In the initial audit, 46% of staff rated their confidence in managing the oral care of COVID-19 patients as ‘good’; in the reaudit this increased to 63%. Staff rating their confidence as poor decreased from 4% to 0%. Staff using fluoride toothpaste to brush patients’ teeth twice a day increased from 24% to 90%. 90% of staff reported finding the teaching and dental supplies useful.
By increasing staff awareness of the importance of oral hygiene for medical reasons and not just for comfort, we hope it will be afforded increased priority, and the perceived unpleasantness of the task may reduce. Our audit study has demonstrated that a small amount of engagement can result in a great increase in staff confidence and improved patient care.