Continuing dental care for Highlands elderly: current practice and attitudes of dental practitioners and home supervisors

J Hally, J E Clarkson, J P Newton
Gerodontology 2003, 20 (2): 88-94

OBJECTIVE: To investigate current practice and attitudes of Highland dentists and home supervisors to continued dental care of elderly residents.

METHODS: A cross-sectional questionnaire was designed to survey the current practice and attitudes of Highland dentists and residential care supervisors in their provision of dental care for the elderly at home and in long stay accommodation.

RESULTS: The response rate was 94% of dentists and 79% of homes. Despite 86% of dentists providing domiciliary care and 93% of homes transport to a surgery, no more than a quarter of residents had had contact with a dentist in the previous year. The distribution of residents varied with dependant individuals living in nursing units and the least dependant in residential homes. Only 1% of all residents were totally bed bound. Domiciliary patients were less likely to receive continuing care compared with those seen in a surgery and 75% of homes had to initiate dental care. In terms of patient referral, the majority of GDPs would refer uncooperative patients, salaried dentists would refer those with complex medical histories and community dentists would refer those requiring complex treatments. A dental assessment was undertaken in 46% of homes and 81% of these kept a record of dental care.

CONCLUSION: This study highlights the need for a co-ordinated, seamless continuing dental care service, tailored to the actual needs of the elderly individuals it is designed to serve, particularly in a remote and rural area.

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