Engaging dental professionals in residential aged-care facilities: staff perspectives regarding access to oral care

Lydia Hearn, Linda Slack-Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The limited access to oral care for older people living in residential aged care facilities (RACFs) has been noted repeatedly in the literature. The aim of this study was to explore RACF staff perspectives on how to engage dental professionals in the provision of oral care for RACF residents. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 30 staff from six purposively selected RACFs located in high socioeconomic areas to gain understanding of the multidimensional issues that influenced the engagement of dental professionals from a carer perspective. Analysis revealed that staff perceived tensions regarding affordability, availability, accessibility and flexibility of dental professionals as significant barriers to better oral care for their residents. Participants raised a series of options for how to better engage dental professionals and reduce these barriers. Their ideas included: the engagement of RACF staff in collaborative discussions with representatives of public and private dental services, dental associations, corporate partners and academics; the use of hygienists/oral health therapists to educate and motivate RACF staff; the promotion of oral health information for troubleshooting and advice on how to deal with residents’ dental pain while waiting for support; the encouragement of onsite training for dental professionals; and the importance of gerodontology (geriatric dentistry). Findings highlighted the need to explore alternative approaches to delivering oral care that transcend the model of private clinical practice to focus instead on the needs of RACFs and take into account quality of end-of-life oral care.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)445-451
JournalAustralian Journal of Primary Health
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 16 Nov 2015


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