Changing practice: use of audit to change oral care practice

Int J Palliat Nurs. 2004 Dec;10(12):580-7. doi: 10.12968/ijpn.2004.10.12.17282.


Although oral problems are common in palliative care, oral care can be a neglected area of practice. This article discusses the introduction of an oral care protocol and standard in one palliative care unit. The project used audit tools developed by Lee et al (2001) and involved a survey of the oral care knowledge of nursing and medical staff, and a retrospective survey of current practice using 50 sets of patients' notes. A standard and documentation were developed with the aim of ensuring oral care was both consistent and in line with best practice. Training was provided to all staff within the unit. Three months later oral care practice was audited. The results suggested improvement in all aspects of oral care practice. Dissemination of oral care documentation and training across the trust is underway. This article describes the processes used, highlighting the importance of assessment in oral care and the need for teamwork in rolling out changes both within and beyond a single unit.

MeSH terms

  • Documentation / standards
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Medical Audit / methods*
  • Medical Staff / education
  • Nursing Audit / methods*
  • Nursing Staff / education
  • Oral Hygiene / education*
  • Oral Hygiene / nursing
  • Oral Hygiene / standards*
  • Palliative Care / organization & administration*
  • Patient Care Team
  • United Kingdom