Original Research

Oral healthcare provision at long-term care facilities in eThekwini: Perspectives of coordinators

Sonam Balwanth, Shenuka Singh
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 15, No 1 | a3884 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v15i1.3884 | © 2023 Sonam Balwanth, Shenuka Singh | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 October 2022 | Published: 20 June 2023

About the author(s)

Sonam Balwanth, Discipline of Dentistry, School of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Shenuka Singh, Discipline of Dentistry, School of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa


Background: The prevalence and impact of oral disease among long-term institutionalised residents highlight the need for a scale-up of preventive and promotional oral health services that include oral health education and training for caregiving staff. However, opportunities to improve oral healthcare services are met with challenges.

Aim: This study was undertaken to establish coordinator perspectives on oral health provision.

Setting: Seven long-term care facilities in the eThekwini district, South Africa.

Methods: An in-depth exploratory study was conducted with 14 purposively selected coordinators (managers and nurses). Semi-structured interviews were conducted and focused on coordinators’ experience and perspectives on oral healthcare. Data were analysed using thematic analysis.

Results: The following themes emerged from the study: A lack of comprehensive oral health care practices, inadequate support from the dental sector, insufficient oral health prioritisation, limited funding for oral health, and challenges associated with coronavirus disease (COVID-19). All respondents reported that no oral health initiatives existed. Plans for oral health training workshops presented with coordination and funding challenges. Oral health screening initiatives have ceased since COVID-19.

Conclusion: The study findings indicated that prioritisation of oral health services was inadequate. There is a need for continual oral health in-service training for caregivers and support from coordinators in guiding the implementation of oral health training programmes.

Contribution: It is envisaged that the findings of this study will bring about greater coordinator involvement and collaboration with the public and private dental sectors to improve oral healthcare at long-term care facilities.


oral health provision; coordinator perspectives; long-term care facilities; caregivers; institutionalised residents.

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 3: Good health and well-being


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