Oral health in aged care will be one of three topics in the first hearing of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety when it resumes on July 15 2020.
In an open letter to the Royal Commission last January, the Australian Dental Association NSW called for solutions to the “woeful state of oral health” in Australia’s elderly.
“Without oral health there can be no easy way to maintain good nutrition, maintain a healthy weight and maintain good self-esteem allowing comfortable social interaction. Without oral health there is no health,” the peak body urged.
ADA NSW President Dr Kathleen Matthews will present recommendations to the Royal Commission tomorrow, including mandatory oral health assessments and regular oral health care for aged care residents. Matthews will also recommend Medicare-funded oral health assessments for Australians aged over 75.
Newcastle University’s Associate Professor Janet Wallace, who is head of Senior Smiles oral health program, said national funding would prioritise oral health in residential aged care.
“We’ll really need to have national funding that is attached to the accreditation processes in aged care facilities, so that oral health becomes part of general health.
And so that all aged care facilities are encouraged by their accreditation processes to employ either dental hygienists or oral health therapists, that will then be able to make referral pathways to dentists and dental prosthetists in local communities. Thereby (giving) the residents access to timely dental care.”
Senior Smiles has provided preventative oral health care to 600 aged care residents across five residential facilities since the program began in 2014.
The Royal Commission has received over 8,749 submissions to date on the quality of residential and in-home aged care. It will publish a final report by November 2020.