Oral Health, Ageing & Palliative Care

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Developing, implementing and evaluating a palliative oral health program for patients in South Western Sydney (PALLIOH)

Palliative care is becoming increasingly important in Australia as the population ages, with nearly 58,000 palliative care in-patients reported in 2012. The focus of palliative care is to improve the quality of life of patients and their families facing problems associated with life-threatening illnesses. One aspect that is important for palliative care patients is oral health. These patients are at risk of poor oral health due to various factors such as “drying” medications, fatigue, decreased mobility and ability to self-care. Unfortunately oral health is often neglected during palliative care in Australia.

The broad aim of this study, the first of its kind in Australia, is to develop, implement and evaluate an innovative palliative oral health (PALLIOH) program to improve the oral health and quality of life of palliative care patients in South Western Sydney.

    Phase 1: Explore current perceptions, practices and knowledge regarding oral health among palliative care nurses and Dentists (needs assessment)
    Phase 2: Explore current perceptions, practices and knowledge regarding oral health among palliative care patients and families/carers (needs assessment)
    Phase 3: Develop education program for Palliative care providers and Dentists
    Phase 4: Implement and evaluate the education program
    Phase 5: Pilot test the PALLIOH program

Funding is gratefully acknowledged from:

    • South Western Sydney Local Health District Innovation Committee

Project team:

    • Assoc Prof. Ajesh George – Western Sydney University, SWSLHD, University of Sydney, Ingham Institute
    • Adjunct Assoc Prof Ravi Srinivas – SWSLHD Oral Health Services, Western Sydney University
    • Prof Deborah Parker – University of Technology Sydney, Ingham Institute
    • Prof Meera Agar – University of Technology Sydney, University of Sydney, Ingham Institute
    • Dr Jennifer Wiltshire – SWSLHD
    • Janeane Harlum – SWSLHD
    • Amy Villarosa – Western Sydney University, SWSLHD, Ingham Institute

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Improving oral health outcomes for people living with disability and in residential care facilities (ACOH)

In recent years, there has been an increasing interest in research on how to best service the needs of Australia’s ageing population. Research has indicated that many of the oral diseases associated with ageing can be easily prevented by good daily oral hygiene practices and timely access to dental care. In response to this, the Better Oral Health in Residential Aged Care program was developed to train nursing staff to provide oral care to aged care residents. However, recent survey of Directors of Nursing (DoNs) in Residential Aged Care Facilities (RACFs) reported that even following this program, less than half (48%) of residents had dental assessment on admission and 74.2% of facilities did not have regular visits by dentists.

The overall aim of this quality assurance project is to evaluate current practices and develop strategies to improve the oral health outcomes of people living in residential aged care.

Funding is gratefully acknowledged from:

    • South Western Sydney Local Health District Innovation Committee

Project team:

    Dr Sally Clark – SWSLHD
    • Amy Villarosa – Western Sydney University, SWSLHD, Ingham Institute
    • Tiffany Patterson Norrie – Western Sydney University, SWSLHD, Ingham Institute
    Cynthia Valderrama – SWSLHD, Ingham Institute
    Jennifer Anlezark – SWSLHD
    Kylie Smidt – SWSLHD, Ingham Institute
    Diana Wiskich – SWSLHD
    Susan MacDonald – HarbisonCare
    • Assoc Prof. Ajesh George – Western Sydney University, SWSLHD, University of Sydney, Ingham Institute
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