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Mouth Care Matters accent

June 4, 2021 | By


JOHNSTON, Iowa – Aug. 20, 2015 – Wesley Acres has joined Iowa CareGivers in a two-year pilot project to develop and test a new competency-based oral health specialty training for direct care professionals. The purpose of the project is to increase access to and improve the oral health care of Iowans who are homebound or residing in a senior living community, thus improving their overall health, comfort and dignity.

Oral cancer results in nearly 8,000 deaths each year. More than half of these deaths occur among persons 65 years of age and older. Oral health problems can cause pain and suffering, as well as difficulty in speaking, chewing and swallowing. In addition, loss of self-esteem is associated with loss of teeth.

“Mouth Care Matters” is an initiative of the Lifelong Smiles Coalition supported by the Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation, providing oral health care education for certified nursing assistants, home care aides and other direct care professionals. Training will entail both classroom instruction and hands-on practice.  Wesley Acres’ care providers will be among the first to receive the free specialty training.

Chad Piper, Wesley Acres executive director, said: “Wesley Acres is pleased to partner with Iowa CareGivers in pilot testing their Oral Health Specialty Training. As a WesleyLife Community for Healthy Living, Wesley Acres understands the direct correlation between regular, quality oral health, and the dignity and well-being of its residents. This project is a tremendous opportunity for our direct care professionals to evaluate a training that will lead to development of standardized curriculum for oral health care providers. ”

“This curriculum will become the first state-recognized specialty under Iowa’s new ‘Prepare to Care’ curriculum designed for those who work in direct care. The pilot project will involve the training of 15 instructors and at least 150 direct care professionals in Iowa, including participants from Wesley Acres,” said Di Findley, Iowa CareGivers executive director.

The initiative has received financial support from Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation, Mid-Iowa Health Foundation, and the Iowa Department of Public Health through a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Cooperative Agreement.  

Key partners include Wesley Acres, University of Iowa Colleges of Nursing and Dentistry, Iowa Dental Hygienists’ Association, Direct Care Workforce Initiative, University of Iowa National Resource Center for Family Center Practice, Iowa Department of Public Health, Des Moines Area Community College, Harder+Company Community Research, and other public and private agencies.

For more information, contact: Chad Piper, Wesley Acres executive director, 515-271-6504 or


About WesleyLife—a nonprofit organization

Guided by Christian compassion, WesleyLife is enhancing the independence, health and well-being of older adults. Our vision is to transform the aging experience so people live longer, healthier lives. We offer health and wellness services in 15 Iowa counties through our Communities for Healthy Living, three adult day centers, and an array of services delivered to people wherever they call home.  For more information about WesleyLife, please visit


About Iowa CareGivers—a nonprofit organization

Iowa CareGivers is an independent nonprofit organization that exists to ensure that all Iowans receive good care and support when and where they need it. We do that by serving the needs of those who provide most of the hands-on care and support...the direct care workforce.

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