Ejlal Home Oral Health Care Services (EHOHCS) program at Primary Health Care Corporation (PHCC) is a humanitarian initiative aimed at improving the quality of life of the elderly in our society, providing support and comprehensive care to homebound seniors.
“Ejlal program is a bridge through which older people can be reached in their homes to provide oral and dental care services, from early oral screening to education, where the cases that need dental treatment are referred and given priority. This program forms an integral part of PHCC’s care and respect for elderly clients,” said Dr. Hamad Al Madahka, Executive Director of PHCC’s Preventive Health Department.
During the pilot phase of this program which extended from June to August 2023, Dr. Al Mudahka reported that Ejlal team had visited 350 older people from 15 health centers who had received PHCC’s home care services, where 100% of them had a very positive feedback for the program, with 87% rating the service as excellent and 13% rating it as good. This sheds light on the positive impact of the services provided on their oral health and overall quality of life.
Tooth loss and the use of dental prosthesis among elderly was also assessed. 23% of the elderly had all their natural teeth missing on examination. 36% of the elderly using artificial prosthesis, like complete or partial dentures required prosthesis replacement.
Regarding daily oral hygiene practices, the results of the pilot phase showed that more than 50% of elderly patients depend on others for their oral hygiene needs, and most of them used manual toothbrushes and toothpaste, and about 20% of elderly people do not practice daily oral hygiene regularly. Alarmingly, 1 in every 3-4 elderly was affected by tooth decay or gum diseases.
It is noteworthy that almost all elderly patients, caregivers, and family members received oral health education and diet counseling. This along with referral for dental treatment will assuredly contribute towards better oral health and quality of life for the elderly, added Dr. Al Mudahka.
The importance of this program is evident in early detection of oral and dental diseases, such as gingivitis, mouth sores, and tooth decay, where 36% of the elderly were referred to receive dental treatment, which shows that the elderlies were unaware of their oral health problems, and they neglected their oral problems and prioritized their general health. Thus, this initiative addresses older persons’ needs and help them overcome pain early.
The pilot phase also showed that, although the home visits were planned and confirmed for the elderly’s availability, the work team faced cancellation of 15% of these appointments or a request to renew the appointment by the elderly or their families before the visit, while 8% of the home visits ended in no show. In addition, 7% of Ejlal’s scheduled home visits were unable to be completed due to unavailability of the elderly or being hospitalized due to poor health.Recognizing the increased prevalence of oral diseases among the elderly, Dr. Al Mudahka urged all PHCC registered home care elderlies to respond to Ejlal team to undergo an early screening and oral health education at their home, thus protecting them from oral and dental diseases as well as providing early dental appointments to avoid any discomfort or long waiting time.