Mid-October (19 October 2012) saw BDA Scotland hold its first fringe meeting at an SNP Annual Conference. The lunchtime event, which took place during the event in Perth, saw Michael Matheson MSP (Minister for Public Health in the Scottish Government) and Brett Duane (Specialty Registrar in Dental Public Health at NHS Fife) discuss how oral health in Scotland’s residential homes could be improved. Andrew Lamb, Director of BDA Scotland, chaired the meeting.
Michael Matheson spoke of the challenge that this issue would present in the future, and the importance of developing a model of oral health provision that will be able to meet the changing demographic needs of the next 20 years. The Scottish Government’s Self-Directed Support Bill, which was published earlier this year, will lead to a greater degree of personalisation of social care. The challenge will be to ensure that oral health issues continue to be seen as a priority, and education – for older people and their carers – will be vital in achieving this.
Brett Duane gave an overview of the Fife Oral Healthcare Award, which 42 care homes are currently participating in. Through the award care home are given a greater awareness of their residents’ likely oral health needs, and trained to recognise and respond to them. Oral health assessments are carried out for all residents, referrals are made to local dentists and higher strength fluoride toothpaste is made available where necessary. Different aspects of how the care homes are doing are recorded and published on the Award Scheme’s website.
Both speakers touched on how dental health schemes that were developed in Scotland, such as the Priority Groups Strategy, were now being imitated by other countries, and that Scotland was increasingly being seen as a world leader when it came to initiatives to improve oral health.
The BDA-organised event at the SNP Conference was the last BDA activity of the autumn 2012 party conference season. BDA officers were also present at the UK conferences of the Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Labour party conferences, where issues including changes to dental commissioning in England, regulation of dental services and dental training were highlighted.