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Aim: To determine the perceptions of carers of people with a disability in terms of the problems they face in accessing dental care.
Method: The survey was based on the modified Penchansky’s 5A classification. It focused on members of a local disability support agency and was completed as part of their ongoing quality improvement processes.
Result: A total of 169 carers took part, with a quarter indicating that the person they cared for did not have a regular dentist. Nearly 25% of the participants found it extremely difficult to obtain appropriate oral health care. Amongst the participants 10% had to abandon dental treatment due to difficulties, while 13% have yet to receive any sort of dental care. Amongst school-aged children, 64.5% were unable to receive dental care from the school dental service.
Conclusion: The study was conducted to obtain an insight and understanding of how people with a disability and their primary caregivers experience dental care. Several concerns were identified, with most related to the process of providing care (patient-professional interaction factors) and the structure of the dental health system and its operation (factors related to access, affordability and information systems.) Targeted strategies aimed at providing affordable and appropriate services to people with disabilities should be prioritised.
So What? The study showed emerging concerns among the participants relating to providing information regarding dental care options, as well as concerns regarding the availability and accessibility of the services. Further research will be conducted using the standardized tool the Measure of Processes of Care, and findings will translate to help initiate a program with the help of Developmental Disability Western Australia to provide information.
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