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The aging population has significantly escalated in Australia thus increasing the number of senior citizens in the residential facilities. According to Hibbert et al., (2019, p.01) most of these elderlies have dementia therefore, most of the residence are faced with challenges associated with this degenerative disease. One of the problems includes maintaining good oral health. This report will discuss three problems of providing dental health in RACFs in Australia such as obstacles related to finance, barriers related to availability and barriers associated training and awareness. It will then analyze solutions and recommendations to improve the dental health.

The main reason for lack of oral health care is due to the cost associated with the treatment and the care. Most people who live in residential facilities are retired senior citizens. They are left with few funds to support themselves after paying for their stay in these facilities to make dental care a priority (Hearn & Slack- Smith, 2015, p. 447). They would rather save the little they have for other medical emergencies and challenges that may occur in the future. In addition, their private insurance hardly covers the oral health care and most of the residence believed that they are old and dental care is not a necessity (Villarosa et a., 2018, p.180) Some of their family members also agreed with them and mentioned that dental diseases were expected with old age and it was not a matter of urgency ((Lewis, Wallace, Deutch, & King, 2015, p.97). Villarosa et al., (2018, p. 182) suggested some solutions to ease this problem of finance residents with free dental care. It is recommended to include the residence’s family members in training and awareness so that they can make dental care a matter of importance and therefore be able to provide funds for their elderly relatives. These elderlies will not have to depend on their pension for treatment and care. Furthermore, Wright, Law, Chu, Cullen & Le Couteur (2017, p.424) mentioned a solution whereby residents who were not qualified for public oral care were assessed by a specialist through an agreement that was made between the resident or family members onsite.

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The second reason for insufficient dental health care is because of unavailable resources and shortage of medical staff. Because of shortage of caregivers, priority is given to other task that are regarded as pleasant such as bathing and providing meals rather than daily oral care and they is an excessive demand of those other task for few caregivers (Hearn& Slack-Smith,2014, p.152). One care giver added that “… a big issue that I find is when residents have their own teeth, they are sometimes very hard to perform the oral health on” (Hoang, Barnett, Maine& Crocombe, 2018, p.274). Therefore, this continuously put a strain on the limited staff. In addition, some residential facilities do not have dentist onsite so they have to transport the elderly which results in the limited attendance of residences for their yearly checkups for those with this degenerative disease (dementia). It is difficult for them to cooperate and some caregivers are reluctant to keep persisting because they are in short supply and some of them do not have knowledge on how to handle those situations. According to Lewis et al., (2015, p.98) it would be advisable to implement dental equipment that is portable to the residential sites to avoid the need to move residence from one destination to the other. This could improve the number of residences that are assessed regularly and increase the chances of better dental care. Any emergency situations that mat arise are easily identified before they cause damage which will later lead to other diseases such as cardiovascular.

The last reason for absence of dental care in residential facilities is lack of knowledge and negative perception towards the care. Dentist are in high demand so they would rather go to other amenities where there are more opportunities for them than in residential facilities (Hearn &Slack-Smith, 2014, p.151). This resulted in having less experienced care givers who were willing to attend to the elderly and most of them supported the need for training. According to Villarosa et al., (2018, p.181) there is need for further formal training for them to be able to provide adequate oral care. Another care giver also supported the need for training by saying that “I started there in 2010 as a carer I can vaguely remember people coming back and giving education around the mouth.” (Hoang et al., 2018, p.273). In addition, dental care in the past was always regarded as the dentist main priority (Lewis et al., 2015, p.97). Care givers however were reluctant to share the responsibilities with them to work as a team thus having less focus on residences dental daily care. According to Lewis et al., (2015, p.99) it is therefore recommended that dental students take their placements in residential facilities so that they get acquitted with the elderly on daily bases. This is a way for these students to acquire more knowledge and gain experience in the field especially with residents who have dementia. Hearn and Slack-Smith (2015, p.450) also believed that the exposure will alter their insights and approaches and they will also be able to provide dental care materials for education purposes to the residents.

In summary, this report has discussed the setbacks that are being experienced in RACFs regarding dental care. The costs of getting oral care were mentioned as a huge problem as it discourages the less privileged residents to get the care. There is also lack of necessary resources and transportation to professionals which contributes to the problems. It also discussed possible solutions of having free dental health programs to help, as well as providing adequate training and providing on site care to avoid the need to travel for care.

#heathcare #medical #medicalcare #pharmaceuticals #healthcareprofessional #nurses #healthprofessionals

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