Need for aged care and Oral Health Professionals integration

Australia’s Oral Health Professionals national peak body has called for better integration and utilisation of their members into aged care facilities and the sector overall.


The Australian Dental and Oral Health Therapists Association (ADOHTA) is welcoming recent comments made from leading aged care representatives which urge the Federal government to use an “arsenal of levers” which could assist aged care providers in attracting and retaining staff, as well as addressing the massive unmet need of oral health care and promotion within the sector.


The ADOHTA President, Ms Hellene Platell, said “It is well established that residents in aged care facilities have large amounts of unmet oral care needs.”


Ms Platell is encouraging the Federal government and industry bodies to look at innovative ways of addressing issues plaguing the aged care workforce which she says are impacting on the quality of life of Australia’s older generation in aged care facilities and residential care.


“Oral health services are difficult if not impossible for some aged care facility residents to access and that new models of service delivery by oral health practitioners are able to offer some positive outcomes in this area.”


“We have a number of members from the Tamworth area who are employed by the Uniting Church Aged Care Services which visit up to 5 different facilities on a weekly basis to assess residents’ oral status, coordinate the provision of care and oral health work if required, as well as providing practical advice and education to the centre staff and residents.”


“Not only does best practice in preventative oral health, such as this, lead to a reduction in avoidable health issues in older populations, it can also significantly improve their quality of life.”


ADOHTA is calling for primary preventive oral health care and better use of the Oral Health Professionals (OHP) workforce to be integrated into general health services.


Ms Platell says Australia has invested in building the capacity of OHPs by advancing their training and education (three-year bachelor degrees) and since 2010, registering them nationally through the Australian Health Professionals Registration Agency.


“We have recently been in consultation with the federal government and look forward to engaging the relevant state and territory counterparts in the near future to see what can be done to address this issue and also the utilisation of the OHP workforce overall throughout Australia.”


“We believe that OHPs can be supported to work in ways that make a greater contribution to improving the oral and general health of Australians, both in our cities and in rural and regional areas.”


1 March 2016.