Journal of Professional Nursing

Oral Health Experiences of Māori with Dementia and Whānau perspectives - Oranga Waha Mō Ngā Iwi Katoa

Jean Gilmour, RN, PhD, Associate Professor, School of Nursing, Massey University, Wellington, NZ
Annette Huntington, RN, PhD, Professor, School of Nursing, Massey University, Wellington, NZ
Bridget Robson, BA, DPH, Director Te Rōpū Rangahau Hauora a Eru Pōmare, University of Otago, Wellington, NZ

Reference:  Gilmour, J., Huntington, A., & Robson, B. (2016). Oral health experiences of Māori with dementia and whānau perspectives - oranga waha mō ngā iwi katoa. Nursing Praxis in New Zealand, 32(1), 20-27. 


This paper reports a study of the oral health experiences and needs of Māori with dementia and their whānau.  Age-related change is associated with oral health issues such as gum recession, risk of caries and issues with previous dental work.  A diagnosis of dementia is an added factor due to care provision difficulties.  A descriptive qualitative research design was used to develop an in-depth understanding of oral health issues from the perspective  of the people being interviewed.  Seventeen whānau members were interviewed and the data analysed thematically.  Four themes were identified; a whānau concern reflecting childhood and whānau oral health experiences and care; oral health issues which identified current concerns and difficulties; enabling oral health care covering participants' strategies to manage oral health in the context of dementia, and finally improving future prospects where whānau made suggestions to improve oral health services.  The impact of dementia on oral health is compounded by barriers to dental care because of ability to cope with dental visits, the high cost of dental services, and competing demands influencing caregiver priorities.  Suggested service improvements include provision of oral health information for whānau, affordable community based services able to address the oral health requirements of people with dementia, and service provider education about dementia.  Nurses in a variety of health care contexts can contribute to the direct provision of skilled routine oral health care, oral health education for whānau members and support staff, and education of health professionals about appropriate care for people with dementia.

Māori; whānau/family; nursing; oral health

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