In the fall of 2010, Alice Choi received some disappointing news: the program that had provided oral health care for residents of her facility—the Simon K.Y. Lee Seniors Care Home—was coming to a close. As Executive Director of the Home, Alice had seen the positive impacts of this program, and she was faced with a daunting problem: How to provide oral health care to her frail elderly residents who cannot otherwise access it due to cost.
The UBC Geriatric Dentistry Program operates with a team of dentists, dental hygienists, certified dental assistants, and is supported by a specialized team of administrative personnel at UBC Dentistry. In addition to dental services, the program is also committed to education and research.
The delivery of care with a dynamic community service-learning model involves the Geriatric Dentistry, Doctor of Dental Medicine, Dental Hygiene, and graduate programs. This team-based approach now provides consistent and accessible oral health care to more than 200 seniors, as well as stable and ongoing learning and research opportunities in dental geriatrics for students and faculty members.
Dr. Wyatt, program director, explains the long-term and sustainable objective of the new model: “Our hope is that new graduates, having gone through this program during their education, may well aspire to treat seniors who live in care homes as part of their regular dental or dental hygiene practice.”
“The elderly population is a huge and often shut-in demographic,” says Alice. “Having students come regularly, as part of their curriculum, ensures that our residents are getting the care they need.”