To celebrate the 150th birthday of UC San Francisco and the role that the School of Nursing has played in this unique health sciences institution, Science of Caring is running a series of stories that focus on important, often seminal contributions that the School has made to health care delivery, education and research. For more than 30 years, the School has been a leader in research and education for the care of older adults.
Nearly 20 years ago, Jeanie Kayser-Jones, UC San Francisco School of Nursing professor emerita, devised a simple screening tool for nurses in nursing homes to use to evaluate the dental health of their elderly patients: a brief examination that enables nurses to catch worrisome symptoms that signal the need for a dentist.
To this day, interest in the assessment tool is strong, with hundreds of inquiries from nurses all over the world, says Kayser-Jones, the founding director of the School’s John A. Hartford Center of Gerontological Nursing Excellence and a renowned researcher in the care and safety of older adults. The tool, called the Brief Oral Health Status Examination, or BOHSE, is a great example of the significant impact nurses can have in geriatric care. “Oral health problems in older people can spiral downward, causing systemic infections, weight loss and other complications that lead to death,” says Kayser-Jones.
Kayser-Jones is proud of her personal contributions to the health of frail nursing home patients, but she’s also clearly proud of the contribution of gerontological nursing, a perspective and training that considers the whole patient and the multitude of interconnecting factors influencing health. She is among the many gerontological leaders who’ve helped make the School a historic force in the care of older adults, both in research and in clinical training.