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The 5C model: A proposed continuous quality improvement framework for volunteer dental services in remote Australian Aboriginal communities.

OBJECTIVES: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in remote parts of Australia are some of the most underserviced communities in regard to oral health care. These communities rely on volunteer dental programmes such as the Kimberley Dental Team to fill the gaps in care, however, there are no known continuous quality improvement (CQI) frameworks to guide such organizations to ensure that they are delivering high-quality, community-centred, culturally appropriate care. This study proposes a CQI framework model for voluntary dental programmes providing care to remote Aboriginal communities.

METHODS: Relevant CQI models wherein the (i) behaviour of interest was quality improvement, and (ii) the health context was volunteer services in Aboriginal communities were identified from the literature. The conceptual models were subsequently augmented using a 'best fit' framework and the existing evidence synthesized to develop a CQI framework that aims to guide volunteer dental services to develop local priorities and enhance current dental practice.

RESULTS: A cyclical five-phase model is proposed starting with consultation and moving through the phases of data collection, consideration, collaboration and celebration.

CONCLUSIONS: This is the first proposed CQI framework for volunteer dental services working with Aboriginal communities. The framework enables volunteers to ensure that the quality of care provided is commensurate with the community needs and informed by community consultation. It is anticipated that future mixed methods research will enable formal evaluation of the 5C model and CQI strategies focusing on oral health among Aboriginal communities.

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