Publication of “Our Older People’s Oral Health”

  • Peter Dunne

Associate Minister of Health, Hon Peter Dunne, has welcomed the publication of the report by CBG Health Research on older people’s oral health. The report, which has been released on the Ministry of Health website, investigates the oral health status of older people living in rest homes and those receiving home-based services in the community.

“The release of the report is very timely. The Ministry of Health has been consulting on the Health of Older People Strategy and this report makes a very useful contribution to that process.

“The report presents up-to-date and comprehensive information on the oral health status of the most vulnerable older New Zealanders. The study identifies high rates of oral disease and unmet need. This group of older people does not (or in some instances cannot) routinely engage in the oral health care practices that help to reduce disease and maintain oral health”, says Mr Dunne.

The findings underscore the importance of oral health training workshops for the caregivers of older people.

The Ministry funds the New Zealand Dental Association (NZDA) to provide training workshops to improve the oral health care skills of caregivers of older people.

Since September 2010, 95 training workshops have been held in nineteen centres, providing formal training in oral health care for 2,741 caregivers from the aged-care sector a further 20 workshops are planned this year.

The study also identifies some significant ethnic, socio-economic, location and dependency-related disparities in oral health and care.

“The next stage of consultation on the Strategy will focus on the response to priority issues. The work on the Strategy provides a timely and appropriate vehicle for responding to the report and addressing priority issues related to older people’s oral health.

“Two options currently being considered by the Ministry are looking at options for improving oral health care within rest homes and community care providers. A second option is greater promotion with GPs and primary care nurses of the importance of good health advice to older people about their oral health.

“The Health of Older People Strategy is being updated and it will set a direction for future services to meet the health and disability support needs of older people, and the development of services in the medium term”, Mr Dunne said.