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Local nurses show initiative

Thursday, 28th February, 2019

Martha Rowe, Kristy Brown; Catering Services with former locals Registered Nurse Chanelle Lawn and Enrolled Nurse Brooke Hermansson Martha Rowe, Kristy Brown; Catering Services with former locals Registered Nurse Chanelle Lawn and Enrolled Nurse Brooke Hermansson

Nurses Chanelle Lawn and Brooke Hermansson have developed a tool to make it easier for aged care staff to check residents’ oral health.

Registered nurse Chanelle Lawn and enrolled nurse Brooke Hermansson work at Red Cliffs’ Jacaranda Village Aged Care and recently developed the tool after noticing that oral health can get overlooked in aged care.

The pair are both from Broken Hill, where they trained and started work as nurses.

Using the tool, staff can refer to a checklist which provides signs of healthy and unhealthy lips, tongue, teeth and gums, dental pain, oral cleanliness and saliva, and what action to take if unhealthy signs are noted.

For example, the checklist prompts staff to check whether a residentís tongue is moist and pink or coated, ulcerated, swollen, patchy/fissured or dry/rough.

The checklist is also helpful as a tool to use with residents who have dementia and may not be able to readily communicate about their oral health issues. 

By running through the checklist, staff are able to better identify oral health issues and take appropriate action. 

The pair has also made videos to use with the tool, showing how to fit a denture, how to brush teeth correctly, how to remove a denture, and how to manage the oral health of residents with behavioural issues.

“I think it has made a difference in staff being more aware,” Chanelle said. 

“More of our residents are getting referred to the dentist.”

Poor oral health can cause pain, infection, difficulty swallowing and chewing, and loss of quality of life.

Chanelle and Brooke studied a Diploma of Nursing together, graduating in 2012 and then worked together at Broken Hill Hospital. 

Chanelle started working at Jacaranda Village two and a half years ago, with Brooke starting work there six months later.

The two have also experimented with different emollients to moisturise residents’ limbs and prevent pressure sores and will develop a speech pathology tool.

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