Good mouthcare gets a ‘green light at St John’s Hospice

A new ‘traffic light’ monitoring system is improving the mouthcare of patients at Doncaster’s St John’s Hospice.

Hospice Sister Chelsea Lovell and Staff Nurse Georgina Reeves-Kemp, put their heads together to devise a way of keeping patients’ mouths fresh and clean after finding that many were being admitted with poor oral hygiene.

Chelsea, from Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Many of our patients breathe through their mouths, which often causes an unpleasant dry bacteria coating and generally makes them feel uncomfortable. On admission everyone is risk assessed and, depending on the condition of their mouth, is given a colour code – either green, amber or red. This corresponds to the mouth care boxes we have set up at the hospice, with each having a range of items to be used on the patients depending on their colour code at that particular time.

“The boxes are filled with hygiene products, such as toothbrushes, toothpaste and other oral products, plus photographic examples of what to look out for, such as sore or ulcerated mouths and oral thrush.

“We do weekly assessments which are recorded on the patients’ electronic NHS records, with the aim of getting everyone to the ‘green’ box.”

The good mouthcare approach is incorporated into patients’ care charts and since its introduction, the hospice has seen a drop in the number of cases of hospital acquired pneumonia.

Georgina said: “It’s now part of our holistic care approach and the feedback from our patients is that they feel better for not having a dry, nasty tasting mouth, for example. It also enables us to detect any early signs of mouth cancer.

“When the Covid restrictions allow our Day Centre to re-open we plan to use good mouthcare as a health promotions tool for our day patients as well.”