Following on from previous work around improving dental hygiene in learning disabilities the community learning disability nursing team from Dewsbury have held a special workshop for post graduate dentists at Pinderfields Education Centre exploring dental care for people with learning disabilities.
Staff from ‘Cullingworth Street’ help other services to meet the needs of people with learning disabilities and provide specialist advice. They work alongside health professionals including dentists to create plans and put in place support to suit a person’s unique needs.
As part of the dental workshop health care assistant Angela Goodwill went through issues that could arise when someone with a learning disability has a dental appointment and how best these can be addressed. It became apparent that the students had already faced a number of problems such as missed appointments, high anxiety and getting consent to carry out procedures.
The Cullingworth Street team helped work out these problems and point out that help is available for these situations from within local learning disability services. Suggestions on how to tackle the issues included giving people with learning disabilities extra time for appointments so that they didn’t feel rushed so that they could take the appointments in their own time, therefore not increasing any anxiety they might already be having.
To help improve dental health and reduce problems with visiting a dentists the team work closely with services users to help incorporate good dental hygiene into their daily routine as well as tackling any negative feelings they might have about going to the dentist. By introducing pictures of what happens at the dentist they can become familiar with the surrounding and then when they are due an appointment they can feel more at ease with the procedure. Teeth brushing is incorporated into time spent at day services so it all becomes part of their everyday life.
Using an array of picture aids and visits to the dental clinic Angela has been able to introduce the idea of dental treatment in a non-threatening way. These options were highlighted to the students so that in the future they know there is help available to improve the quality of care they provide for people with learning disabilities.
Speaking about the workshop team leader Jan Howard said, "The event was a great opportunity to fill the knowledge gap that the post graduates were facing. We were able to point them in the right direction of help and to reassure them they are not alone, so can call on assistance to help with any concerns. It is important that we work in partnership with dentists to make the experience of visiting a dentist as comfortable as possible for a person with a learning disability."
You can read more about the work Angela has done in improving dental care for service users in a past issue of Like Minds magazine (1.04MB).