Oral Health News for VHCA Members

Administrators and clinicians in both nursing facility and assisted living facility settings are experiencing growing frustrations in connection with the requirements and responsibilities to ensure that residents are receiving sufficient daily oral hygiene care as well as access to professional dental services when needed.  For nursing facilities, this issue is especially challenging for residents whose primary payor source is Medicaid.

VHCA’s Regulatory and Quality Committees have periodically discussed oral health and dental care related issues for Virginia’s long term care providers and recently formed a workgroup for purposes of identifying strategies for improving access to dental services and for exploring options for heightening the awareness about the importance of daily oral hygiene performed by facility staff.

The workgroup’s efforts are focused initially on the following areas:

  1. Work to educate VHCA member facilities about the regulatory requirements and responsibilities related to oral health services for residents.  The workgroup is also working to identify and communicate oral health resources available to assist facilities in complying with regulations.  One part of this effort is the identification and/or development of web-based educational resources for facility staff.
  2. Assist long term care facilities that are considering entering into contractual agreements for the provision of professional dental services.  This effort includes the identification of both key features and provisions to incorporate into contractual agreement between facilities and dental service providers as well as contractual stipulations to avoid.
  3. Work with the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services and others to improve regulations and associated guidance related to procedures for obtaining patient pay adjustments for non-covered dental services provided to Medicaid residents.  A goal of this initiative is to clearly identify and define the specific dental products and services for which Medicaid patient pay adjustments may be requested along with the minimum interval frequencies (for example, patient pay adjustments for certain cleaning services could not be requested more frequently than once a calendar quarter unless preauthorized based upon a request from a dentist).
  4. Collaborate with the Virginia Dental Association (VDA) to develop joint VDA/VHCA communications to the Virginia dental community about the critical need for dentists to provide services to residents in long term care settings.
  5. Working in conjunction with VDA, explore dental clinic programs such as the one now underway at Lucy Corr Village for possible replication around the Commonwealth.

As mentioned previously, we are working to identify or develop web-based educational resources for facility staff.  VHCA is currently working in collaboration with Lucy Corr Village to try and provide training resources free of charge to all Virginia nursing facilities that are geared towards direct care staff with a strong focus on CNA responsibilities.  Lucy Corr village has developed five in-service educational and training sessions available on one DVD.  This educational resource tool was made possible through grant funding received from the Virginia Center on Aging's Geriatric Training and Education Initiative.   We hope to be able to provide the training DVD to facilities within the next month and will provide an update in upcoming editions of the CareConnection.

At a more advanced clinical level, members may be interested in an online program, made available as a self-paced video produced in June by the Lucy Corr Foundation in conjunction with the Virginia Center on Aging, the VCU Health System and the Virginia Dental Association.  This four-hour course titled Gateway to Health: An Interdisciplinary Approach to Oral Health Care in the Geriatric Population is free but requires registration.

The purpose of the course is to provide lecture based training for a wide range of health care professionals and direct care providers pertaining to oral health care in the geriatric population. An interdisciplinary approach is utilized to 1) increase clinical knowledge related to maintenance of oral health for elders in long term care settings and in private practice 2) increase awareness of the importance of interdisciplinary oral care on the impact of overall health status and quality of life for elders.

Program Objectives:

  • Identify the oral health needs of the older adult population. Interpret the importance of oral health in older adults.
  • Communicate a basic understanding of characteristics of oral-systemic interactions as associated with aging and common among older adults.
  • Recognize barriers affecting oral health in the later years.
  • Recognize and be able to display proper brushing and flossing techniques to be utilized with dependent and independent geriatric residents/patients.
  • Perform an oral screening and recognize abnormal oral pathology presented.
  • Discuss problems and formulate potential solutions regarding oral health and dietary issues in older adults.
  • Recognize the pharmacological impact on the oral health of the geriatric population.
  • Display an understanding of the importance effective communicative skills between different health care disciplines to address the oral health care needs of older adults.

To learn more and register for the program, please visit here.