Dentists say older Australians’ oral health ignored by government

By Melissa Coade

Monday May 24, 2021

(Image: Adobe/Svitlana)

The Australian Dental Association (ADA) has described the federal government’s failure to address the ‘endemic neglect’ of oral health services in aged care as ‘lukewarm, half-hearted and disappointing’.

The ADA wants the recommendations of the final aged care quality and safety royal commission report to be fully endorsed by the federal government and not shirked off as a state responsibility. 

ADA president Mark Hutton published a fiery statement on Friday calling for the government to acknowledge the impact poor oral health has on general health and wellbeing of the community. 

“The government’s response released last week fell significantly short of the expectations of the commissioners and the community.”

“The ADA calls on the government […] to work with [us] to develop permanent solutions to the many issues raised in the commission report before the oral health of the nation’s older citizens deteriorates further,” Hutton said. 

The dentists want the government to reconsider their recommendations, which the aged care royal commission accepted, such as a mandatory standard of training to increase the skills of care staff in oral health; and the introduction of a new seniors’ dental benefits schedule (SDBS).

“Most recommendations they’ve accepted are subject to further consultation with the states or further review, with outcomes that can’t be predicted.”

“The failure to adopt the SDBS, saying funding adult dental care was the role of states and territories with National Partnership Agreement support, demonstrates a lack of understanding of what is needed,” Hutton added. 

The South Australian dentist dismissed the government’s current response as inadequate and said it would do nothing to change the oral health of older Australians.

Other proposals made by the dentists’ group ‘unequivocally’ endorsed by the commission, that were ignored by the federal response, included increasing the time staff must spend with aged care residents, and increasing the access of care residents, their families and staff to professional oral health assessments.


Opinion: the aged care royal commission will bring the industry up to standard, and set up continuous improvement

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