Oral health programs

Pension-Level Supported Residential Services (SRS) project


Pension-level SRSs are privately run accommodation facilities, where residents use the majority of their pension and Commonwealth rent allowance in return for accommodation, food support for daily living.

Residents generally have a very low disposable income, experience social, intellectual or physical limitations (approximately 40% suffer from psychiatric disorders) and commonly engage in behaviours that impact negatively on their health and wellbeing.

Residents of pension-level SRSs are:

• more vulnerable to oral disease
• have poorer oral health than the average population
• less likely to access available dental care, unless for an emergency 

Providing appropriate and acceptable oral health care for residents can be challenging for both support workers and oral health professionals

The project

In the 2007-08 state budget, Dental Health Services Victoria (DHSV) received funding to provide all pension-level SRS residents with the appropriate knowledge and resources to improve their oral health and wellbeing.

In June 2008, DHSV sent oral health kits to all pension-level SRSs across Victoria. The oral health kits contained items deemed necessary to maintain oral health.

SRS oral health kit

In February 2009 DHSV health promotion project workers delivered oral health education sessions and another round of oral health kits to residents and staff of pension-level SRSs.

The oral health education session explained the importance of oral health for overall health; healthy lifestyle habits (oral hygiene and nutrition) that aid in the prevention of oral disease and informed residents and staff about access to dental health services. The messages from the oral health education session were later used to develop an oral health education DVD, 'Healthy choice for healthy mouths', which will be sent to all pension and non pension-level SRSs across Victoria.What will happen in the future

This project is one part of a bigger initiative directed by the state government. The Statewide SRS Oral Health initiative involves Knox and Inner South community health services who also implemented pilot projects in 19 pension-level SRSs. Knox and Inner South CHS conducted individual and group oral health education and planning as well as oral health assessment, referral for residents requiring oral health treatment.

An external evaluation was conducted of the overall initiative to find out what did and didn’t work well. This will help the Department of Health explore better ways to improve oral health and access to oral health services for residents of pension-level SRS in the future.

For further information, please contact the Health Promotion team on email healthpromotion@dhsv.org.au

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