Page 285 - Week 01 - Thursday, 12 February 2015
service residential aged-care facilities in Canberra. The aim would be to ensure that residents are no longer required to rely on either family members or costly transport options in order to receive appropriate dental treatment. It would also enable those patients who are bedridden, who were previously restricted to accessing only emergency treatment, to have a regular oral health treatment regime.
To deliver on this commitment, capital funds of $600,000 have been provided to the dental health program to procure a mobile dental clinic and a quarter of a million dollars per annum has been committed to operate the clinic for a four-year period.
The mobile dental clinic has recently been introduced to the community. It is collaborating with the Salvation Army, Communities@Work and a private dentist to deliver dental treatment to clients referred by the Salvos. This service will also support those who are unable to travel away from nursing homes to seek treatment.
I am very pleased to see this service well and truly underway. People on low incomes, people in nursing homes and the elderly who are confined to their own homes find it difficult to get quality dental care. This is helping them. It is another great example of how Labor reaches out to provide quality health care for those who need it most and does not seek to put obstacles in the way of that care, such as asking people to pay more to go to the doctor.
MADAM SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Coe.
MR COE: Minister, of the 931 people who were removed from the list and referred to the private sector, how many have actually received treatment?
MR CORBELL: All clients who were referred to private dentists have received treatment.
MADAM SPEAKER: Supplementary question, Ms Fitzharris.
MS FITZHARRIS: Minister, how do these dental health services help to meet the unique dental requirements of the elderly community in the ACT?
MR CORBELL: I thank Ms Fitzharris for her supplementary. We know that, with the greater level of research now being undertaken into oral health, the importance of oral health in the elderly is being highlighted as an area of concern.
Poor oral health can have an impact on, and be an indicator of, other medical factors. For example, poor oral health has been linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Oral carcinoma is another identified area of concern and is one of the target areas for the national oral health plan.
Dental diseases are amongst the most preventable of all human illnesses. There is an increasing trend in dental disease and dental decay. About 80 per cent of nursing home patients do not have regular dental care of any sort. Older people living in residential care, including those with dementia, have particular oral health problems, including declining physical function, difficulty in swallowing and nutritional