Acting Public Advocate welcomes new oral health and disability guide for dentists
The Acting Public Advocate, John Chesterman, has welcomed the Australian Dental Association’s endorsement of a new guide for dental practitioners, Oral Health and Intellectual Disability which promotes the rights of people with intellectual disability to receive the right support to achieve good oral health.
The guide, part of the Your Dental Health project, details key components, protocols and recommendations for health professionals and family members relating to oral health and intellectual disability.
The guide was developed following a survey at the 2017 Australian Dental Congress that found most dentists wanted to build their practice to be more inclusive of people with intellectual disability but also had significant concerns about consent from non-verbal patients.
The Your Dental Health team found that interdisciplinary consultation – coupled with a modest amount of disability sector knowledge – can lead to significantly smoother treatment, the removal of barriers, and good health outcomes for people with intellectual disability.
The team identified supported decision making, a long-term approach involving a circle of supporters assembling to promote the centrality of the voice, will and preferences of the person with intellectual disability, could help avoid unnecessary hospitalisation and build strong long-term relationships with a cohort that is often marginalised due to perceived risks and complexity.
“I am delighted that Australian Dental Association has recognised the importance of people with disability receiving the support they need to make decisions about their dental treatment,” Dr Chesterman said.
“Everyone has the right to receive the support they need to play an active role in decisions that affect them. Supported decision making is one of the most important human rights concepts for people with cognitive disability.
“The Office of the Public Advocate has long advocated for a greater use of supported decision making. Not only has this been promoted in a range of places including the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, supported decision making is a key component in the new guardianship legislation which will come into effect in Victoria in March 2020.
“This practical guide, a collaboration between dentists, doctors, disability support workers and families, with input from between Inclusion Melbourne, the Centre for Developmental Disability Health (CDDH, Monash Health) the Australian Dental Association (ADA), the Australian Society for Special Care in Dentistry (ASSCID) and representatives of the allied health sector, demonstrates the commitment of the profession to promoting the rights of people with disability receiving dental care.”