Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA May-Jun 2011 Contents Day1 - Before Comfort Shield®
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in ever y cloth
services," Dr Burke says. "But
cost issue. I can only imagine
they're quite expensive as you
would need all the equipment
that's required in a dental
surgery, such as a dental chair,
chair-side suction and a
compressor to run the
equipment...It would be a big
cost to fit it out appropriately
and then there's the additional
cost to fit the van out for
those patients [with mobility
issues] who are not able to get
into the van unassisted."
A Sunday Mail article,
published in January 2009,
reported that a mobile
dentistry van was operating
in Queensland for two years
but it was shut down because
of financial difficulties. It also
reported that there was a
"blowout in costs because of
the considerable turnaround
time treating each patient"
and that the state government
refused to save the business as
it was a private practice.
While there are reports of
one or two aged care dentistry
vans currently operating in
Australia, Dr Burke believes
they are few and far between.
The considerable costs
associated with establishing
on-site dental services are not
easily dismissed, meaning that,
at least for now, interested
providers will need to be
cashed up or cleverly creative.
"If there was an easier way
to provide treatment on-site, it
would've been done," Dr Burke
says. "There isn't and it all
comes down to a funding issue."
would be welcomed [for an
aged care dentistry van]. If
the program could be properly
managed, implemented in
consultation with the dental
industry and aged care
bodies, and together, all the
parties could identify realistic
expectations and outcomes of
the program, then it would be
a very valuable thing."
Without much movement
taking place on the issue,
Diana Robertson urges
providers to do all they can to
break the stalemate. Talk to
your local dentist, she says,
and explore the viability of
setting up a part-time clinic at
"I also urge [providers] to
reconsider what space is being
used and how cost effective it
is for a nurse to take people
off-site to the dentist. Also, if
a dental professional comes
into the building, staff can
usually learn a lot more about
prevention and care than if they
had to go out of the facility to
see them. It's a much better
environment for your nurses to
work in. And, it's a more holistic
approach to care." n
"If there was an easier way to
provide treatment on-site, it
would've been done.
There isn't and it all comes
down to a funding issue."
Dr Phillip Burke.
A WORKING MODEL
According to dentist, Dr Roger Lindsay, the Anglican Retirement
Village in the Sydney suburb of Castle Hill is "way ahead of its
time". The village features a dental suite and has provided on-site
dental treatment to residents since 1973.
Dr Lindsay and his team of dentists, who work at a nearby
private dental practice, visit the village four days a week and
treat residents as needed. He insists that while there are a few
organisations around the country that also run a dental suite, on-
site treatment services are still quite rare.
The Castle Hill village, he says, is able to offer a dental suite
because it caters for a large number of residents and the service
is privately funded.
"Like many of the services offered at a retirement village,
[the dental services] are not funded by the village at all. The
private system does all the work at the village -- medical, physio,
podiatry...as the government doesn't have the resources or the
inclination to do it.
"It all depends who pays for the service. It's also totally
uneconomic for a dentist to leave their existing practice to see
three patients from a list of six that are supposed to be there
(three don't turn up because they are unwell, they have dementia,
are having a bad day or refuse treatment)."
But there will always be a handful of dentists who may want to
visit a facility, not for the money, but for the contribution they can
make to an older person's quality of life. "Everything takes longer
as it's the elderly; they are often sick and appointments are
missed. [This work] is not for everybody," Dr Lindsay said.
72 | MAY--JUNE2011 | AAA
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