Integrated approach to oral health in aged care facilities using oral health practitioners and teledentistry in rural Queensland

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Abstract

Problem

Residents of residential aged care facilities are at very high risk of developing complex oral diseases and dental problems. Key barriers exist in delivering oral health services to residential aged care facilities, particularly in regional and rural areas.

Design

A quality improvement study incorporating pre- and post chart audits and pre- and post consultation with key stakeholders, including staff and residents, expert opinion on cost estimates and field notes were used.

Setting

One regional and three rural residential aged care facilities situated in a non-metropolitan hospital and health service in Queensland.

Strategies for change

The model developed incorporated a visit by an oral health therapist for screening, education, simple intervention and referral for a teledentistry session if required.

Effects of change

Results showed an improvement in implementation of oral health care plans and a minimisation of need for residents to attend an oral health care facility. Potential financial and social cost savings for residents and the facilities were also noted.

Lessons learnt

Screening via the oral health therapist and teledentistry appointment minimises the need for a visit to an oral health facility and subsequent disruption to residents in residential aged care facilities.

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