Start your claim

October 14th 2016

Dental Negligence

Oral health for adults in care homes

Paul Cain

Paul Cain

Senior Solicitor, Clinical Negligence and Head of CICA

Oral health for adults in care homes

By Paul Cain, Senior Solicitor at Hudgell Solicitors

By Paul Cain, Senior Solicitor at Hudgell Solicitors

A recent case that I have been handling here in our new city centre office on Park Place in Leeds involving an elderly gentleman with mental capacity issues resident in a local care home has focused my attention on an aspect of care commonly overlooked even by the seemingly most well organised and highly rated care homes; that being a failure to properly risk assess the oral health of adult residents.

In my case our client was resident in a care home for over 7 years and the care home has just admitted that at no time was any provision made for his oral health meaning that he had no access to dental services, oral health assessments or daily mouth care.

Just before my client went into the home he was assessed as having pristine teeth. Shortly after leaving the home his teeth were assessed as being so badly damaged that he needed a full upper dental clearance and at one point needed an emergency admission to hospital for illness related to an aspirated tooth.

Interestingly in this case the care home actually appeared to have carried out every other imaginable risk assessment and detailed virtually every other aspect of daily living but their lack of treatment in relation to his oral health left my client with rampant caries and needing extensive remedial dental treatment.

This case has left me wondering what might be the potential scale of this problem might be especially as with time waiting for no man and considering that there are currently 11 million people in the UK over the age of 65, a figure that is set to increase to 14 million by 2032 and recent guidance from NICE (The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence):  ‘Oral health for adults in care homes’ estimated there are more than 400,000 adults living in UK care homes, 80% of whom have some form of dementia.

These figures, combined with the current statistics that indicate more than half of older adults in care homes have tooth decay compared to 40 per cent of over 75s and 33 per cent of over 85s who do not live in care homes, suggests to me that the chances are this could be quite a wide scale problem affecting many vulnerable adults in care.

It is known by dental professionals that significant factors in the progression of dental caries in individuals with disabilities are oral clearance, dietary habits, the ability to maintain oral hygiene and the ability to use fluorides appropriately.

Just on a human level these cases are upsetting because in addition to the pain and suffering caused as a result of the lack of care, older adults in care homes are more likely to have fewer natural teeth, and those with teeth are less likely to have enough teeth to eat comfortably and socialise without embarrassment, so it is actually an issue that will go to the heart of the resident’s quality of life and where there has been a lack of care it is very upsetting to family members who have put their trust in the care home to look after their loved ones.

There is certainly no lack of legal obligation in this area with various provisions including the Health and Social Care Act 2008 that should provide protection so why would an apparently competent care home overlook this type of assessment?

It is difficult to be certain but it could be a lack of awareness of availability of local oral health services and local general dental practices but essentially the problems start with a failure to properly risk assess the resident on admission and appreciate the need for assistance, which is a training issue, but also because a resident might not be able to complain about pain or discomfort it may be a basic activity of daily living that is simply neglected by care home staff but unknowingly is silently and relentlessly destructing the resident’s teeth.

Clearly some residents have much more pressing physical and psychological needs than the condition of their teeth but contributors to the NICE guidelines are in no doubt that oral health should be a priority in care homes. They say it is a priority because:

This is about maintaining basic human dignity in those who may need help in looking after themselves.

Fortunately, despite the efforts of the national press, we still live in a country where we can recover some compensation for injury that has been caused as a result of negligence and at Hudgell Solicitors we have a team of specialist solicitors who will be able to assist and if feel you or a relative has been affected by this type of issue.

What Our Clients Say

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Anthony and his team at Hudgell…"

Anthony and his team at Hudgell solicitors are extremely professional and caring People. From the first phone conversation right through to completion i was always kept updated, if i had any concerns and contacted them, they were always happy to listen and put my mind at rest. I would highly…

Mrs lisa martinJanuary 21, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Excellent service"

Great service . Made me feel at ease . Proffesional and very quick to respond to any questions or concerns I would highly reccomend

LesleyJanuary 21, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Excellent service"

Excellent service

JensonJanuary 21, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Excellent service"

Excellent service, Alex Garven was most helpful in dealing with my claim. Many thanks for his hard work in getting a result for me,. It took quite a while but during that time I received regular progress updates and a quick response if I had any queries .

Jill ElliottJanuary 15, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Lauren Dale"

Lauren Dale was so sensitive when dealing with my mums claim and she totally understood what i really wanted from the outcome. she kept me fully informed of everything, as and when it happened. I cannot thank her enough for her help and understanding on such a sensitive case. 5…

Jane from North YorkshieJanuary 11, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Excellent Service"

Excellent, professional and friendly solicitors. It was a very simple process and they kept in constant contact to update me on any developments. Would definitely recommend.

Philippa January 09, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Could not have been simpler or easier"

Could not have been simpler or easier, they did everything required and more. Nice, pleasant to talk to, they do all the leg work, put everything into context and resolve as quick as possible. Hopefully will not have to use again but if a situation arises then would not hesitate…

DarrenJanuary 08, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Very helpful and always kept in touch…"

Very helpful and always kept in touch via email through the while process. Highly recommended

Joseph Conrad Waudby January 07, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Brilliant customer service"

Brilliant customer service, always will contact you as they say they will. Have been very helpful with my case and explained the process thoroughly, very easy to understand. Would definitely recommend.

Julia MatildaJanuary 07, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Verry happy with the result they got…"

Verry happy with the result they got for my claim very officiant and professional my particular solicitor was the most friendly official type person that I have dealt with before really happy with the freindly kind manner in which they dealt with myself and my claim I would recommend them…

Richard RobertsJanuary 07, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Very impressed with the fast turn…"

Very impressed with the fast turn around of Hudgell. Very responsive and friendly too.

CustomerJanuary 03, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Wonderful service"

Wonderful service, was kept up to date regularly and once they received an offer to settle my case, they advised that they could get a better offer and did just that, will definitely pick up the phone again if I ever require their services in future.

Jordan HowarthJanuary 03, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"These solicitors were very helpful and…"

These solicitors were very helpful and I was surprised when they told me that they were pursuing a totally different avenue to the one I thought was available. They were very efficient, constantly in communication with myself and were direct with the opposite party. Needless to say, they won my…

GARY COSGROVEJanuary 03, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Take a leaf out of there book"

I would certainly recommend Was kept up to date via email promptly each time I asked a question Postal and email correspondence was fluent and my claim settled in a timely manner Many thanks to Alex and his hard work

Mandy Michelle WainwrightJanuary 03, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Couldn’t of chose a better solicitors…"

Couldn’t of chose a better solicitors to go through my claim with, Sarah informed me every step of the way (even when they was nothing to update me with) was such a quick process and she couldn’t of been more helpful ! 5*

Courtney FriendJanuary 03, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"karl griffin fantastic man"

karl griffin was fantastic extremely helpful and fought every step of the way for me he was always there whenever i needed him i highly recommend hudgell solicitors to anyone who needs there help they made a horrible situation dissappear

Jeni DaleJanuary 03, 2020

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Alex is amazing"

Alex is amazing! He took over my claim and everything changed from negative to positive. Case still ongoing but fantastic service so far from Alex. Great communication - answering calls and emails. Spot on in everything. I am very glad he is handling my case now and I am confident…

Seth OppongDecember 27, 2019

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Highly recommended"

Excellent service and communication from start to finish. The whole process of handling my personal injury claim was dealt with quickly and courteously.

MikeNovember 26, 2019

trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star trustpilot-star

"Becci was amazing"

Becci was amazing, she was so friendly and helpful and couldn’t have done a better job at helping me with my claim. Very happy.

Katherine JanineNovember 08, 2019