Pneumonia is one of the leading causes of hospital-acquired infection following a stroke and affects one-fifth of stroke survivors each year. Not only does pneumonia triple the risk of death in the first month after stroke, but it also hinders survivors’ rehabilitation and recovery and increases the time they spend in hospital. Recent research conducted in nursing homes found that pneumonia occurs less frequently if dental hygienists help stroke survivors to take care of their mouth and teeth. In hospital stroke wards, people with severe strokes rely on nurses to help them with their oral hygiene. This study will find out whether pneumonia in stroke wards might also be reduced if patients were adequately helped to care for their mouth and teeth.
The researchers have worked with dentists and stroke survivors to develop a program of oral health care. This pilot study will test whether it is feasible to deliver the program on stroke wards and will provide the necessary data to progress to a larger clinical trial. The researchers will test whether the oral health care program is better than standard oral care at reducing pneumonia on stroke wards, with the ultimate aim of improving stroke survival and recovery.