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 could not otherwise access it due to cost or logistics.
To her relief, UBC Dentistry re-evaluated the program and came up with an even more effective solution: Dr. Chris Wyatt, program director, came up with a dynamic community service-learning model to “adopt” a long-term-care facility.
The model involves the Geriatric Dentistry, Doctor of Dental Medicine, Dental Hygiene, and graduate programs—a considerable commitment from the Faculty. 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 explains the long-term, 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.”
The program is supported in part by funding from the Peter Young Foundation.