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The future of Oral Health within the community is no longer just dependent exclusively on the oral health professional. Rather the necessity is evident to involve the Allies of Health within oral health promotion. The old emphasis on just treatment needs to be removed as it hasn’t made a significant reduction in the incidences experienced by an individual as a result of their own oral health problems(NSW Department of Health., 2006). Hence new approach is necceisary, where oral health promotion has been made to help people come to overall health instead of just the illness itself. This new form of oral health promotion aims to have a more of an overall health concentration by considering the determinants of health such as social, environmental, economical and behavioural and the collaboration with allies of health.
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The Role of each allied health worker and preventative strategies in addressing community health problems
allied health professionals are important assets for oral health professionals e.g: pharmacist, speech pathologist, child and family nurses and drug and alcohol service personnel. These allied health workers have a responsibility in oral health promotion as well as having a idiosyncratic role themselves as an allied health worker.
Pharmacists have a primary role in the distribution of medications to patients that have been prescribed to them. They play an imperative element in providing patients information by advising patients of the different types of medications available, dosages, and any adverse side effects that the medication may cause and most importantly to ensure the safe and effective use of the medication. They are also at the first point of contact for any questions or queries by the patients who has concerns about health in general and sometimes the first to be approached to find remedies to solve common health issues(Kritikos, 2011). hence the vital need for a pharmacist to be able to educate the community and help manage the health of patients to help improve the result for each individual patient.
Some strategies include:
Pamphlets and advice about drugs and interactions
Initial assessment of general health and recommendations to achieving healthy living
Smoking cessation programs
Referral pathways options
Another example of allied health workers is Speech pathologists. The main roles of speech pathologists are the assessment and/or treatment of individuals who endure speech disabilities. They work closely with these individuals to help with their communication ranging from speech, writing, signs, symbols or gestures(Cowell, 2011). They are also responsible for working with patients who have problems eating and drinking. Speech pathologists are often seen at schools, nursing homes, hospitals, rehabilitation centers and community health centers. Many strategies are created by speech pathologists to provide information as well as therapy which is important in refrence to early intervention of communication problems(Speech Pathology Australia., 2011).
Examples of strategies include:
Careful assessment and diagnosis of swallowing programs
Management and techniques to
Promotion of effective communication
Promotion of safe eating practices as well as dietary alternatives
Referral pathway options
Early Childhood Community Nurses help and work with parents raising a child in the early few years of life. Ensuring that the child is healthy and doing a variety of tests to see if the child is functioning to a satisfactory level by early identification of deviations from the normal and facilitation of interventions to reduce their impact and support parents in having their children ready for life and learning at school entry. With the nurses either conducting home visiting of 1-4 week olds or parents bringing child into the community health centres and using the “My first health record” blue book the child’s progress and development can be monitored as well as detecting anything of concern early. Such as hearing, vision, growth/weight (BMI), immunisation and other programs such as “Lift the lip”/”See me smile”. By using screening and surveillance the Nurse, the child and its environment can be seen and the nurse can help with changing it with the family to make sure the child is in the best environment achievable.(Mackenzie J and Horswell N., 2011).
Key preventive strategies for health include:
Screening and immunization
Breast feeding clinics
Home visiting to newborns and continual support for those who are identified as high risk
Involvement in campaigns
Lip the lip campaign; Initiative to detect early child hood caries
Referral pathway options
Drug and alcohol service workers are also allied health professionals who offer services that include detoxification, consultation liaisons, abstinence maintenance programs, psychology support and referral to other agencies (Lutz, 2011). They help individuals keep in good health as those who require help perceive health as an issue of little importance therefore placing them at a higher risk of chronic disease. The drug and alcohol service’s aim is to assist in controlling illnesses related to drugs and alcoholic abuse, and in the long term decrease the usage of said substances till ultimate long term abstienence. This creates a better outlook on the persons general health (Victorian Auditor General., 2011).
Key strategies which the drug and alcohol services implement include:
Involvement in campaigns
Great Whites, Oral health Program
Family Drug Helpline
Rehabilitation and abstinence programs
Pharmacotherapy; methadone clinics
Referral pathway options
These allied health professionals are vital for oral health promotion as their primary roles allow them to have initial contact to a variety of the community. Oral health professionals can make use of this to integrate oral health messages by communication and networking to reach the general population as well as certain target groups at risk.
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Communication and Networking
Oral health promotion is usually targeted at cohorts within the community which include the whole population, prenatal, infants and preschoolers, school aged children and adolescents, young adults, low income earners, the elderly and rural and remote communities. Communication and networking is vital to construct relations within the allied health workers who provide services for these groups in order to maintain encouragement for oral health.
Communication and networking between oral health professionals and pharmacists can address oral health issues of the community. Issues which oral health professional must guarantee the pharmacist understands include the option non-xerostomic medication and how to this can affect oral health especially in the elderly and the need for mouth guards for physical sport to prevent trauma in young adults. With this information the pharmacist is able to educate and guide the patient to better decisions which will affect their oral health and the pharmacist is able to provide referrals to oral health practioners. The communication works in both directions as pharmacist also provide the oral health team with information on drug interactions and if there can be any concerns when providing dental treatment as well as education for the safe prescription of antibiotics in order to maintain a good balance of health.
Speech pathologists as a part of their role also deal with patients whom have difficulty communicating as well as swallowing and drinking problems. They play an significant position in the early detection of communicational problems which may affect overall health for infants by distributing information to parents on what to do. Also they help the elderly who may require support with swallowing and drinking problems. Hence it is imperative for oral health professionals to work in association with these allied health workers as they have direct contact with patients whom display dental anomalies such as cleft lip and palate as well as the elderly who may have a reduced functioning dentition. The inter-communications will allow for improved help for conditions by adopting strategies to provide help and education about the importance oral health.
Child and family health nurses provide support, education and information for new parents. This support is helpful for the education and the promotion of health which can be implemented at the young ages of the child. Communication between oral health professionals and child and family health nurses will assist in the creation of healthy habits which are established early providing the greatest opportunity for good health in the future and in particular early childhood caries. It is essential to create communication with the child and family nurses so that oral health becomes a early message to the families and children. it is important to detect those at risk early rather than when addressing oral health issues once intervention treatment is required.
Drug and alcohol services are available to a wide range of the population and people of various ages in aspects such as drug education, addiction counseling and abstaining programs. Oral health professionals need to include this into the oral health promotion by collaborating with the drug and alcohol services. Oral health messages are vital in regards to drugs and alcohol education as the effects of some drugs also have adverse effects on the paitents oral health. Thereby creating communicational networks will create the ability for sufficient education and information that is available to people by the drug and alcohol service, and when it is neccissary to refer them to an oral health professional.
By creating these communicational pathways with the allied health workers, the spread of oral health promotional programs will be distributed throughout the community. This leads to a larger recognition of the need for adequate oral health. This mutual support will help not only oral health but all other aspects of the allied health industry, thereby giving the individual the best help possible.
The difference between Health Education and Health Promotion
Most people within the community are confused and have trouble differentiating between health educatin and health promotion. There needs to be a obvious and clear difference between the two to enable oral health professionals to make health promotion programs. Health education involves educating individuals to recognize the determinants of health. It provides individual autonomy letting them better their own health by creating their own health plans by increasing knowledge which in turn lead to better attitudes which will lead to appropriate behavior changes (World Health Organization., 2011). Health education is an important part of but not the sum of health promotion.
Health promotion integrates the choice of the individual but extends more than this to also include the social responsibilities of health. Health promotion thus also includes health prevention and health protection. Health prevention known as when the risk of disease is reduced through preventing incidence, using interventions which may alter development of disease or rehabilitation of a patient to a level of health that has a slim chance of having a relapse. The aim of health protection is to inhibit poor health by improving the communities living and working conditions. hence health promotion is a holistic approach to health not just focusing on the illness but also concerned with the social and environmental determinants of health(World Health Organization., 2011).
as a result of this, to have successful oral health promotion, we as oral health professionals must look beyond just the oral cavity, and look at the overall health of the individual. Therefore it is imperitive to include the allies of health within the oral healh ptomotion to have an equal level of physica, mental and social wellbeing, not just being free from symptoms of disease. This is attained by amalgamation of the common risk factor approach.
Incorporation of the Common Risk Factor Approach
Allies of health need to be involved in oral health promotion as this can make sure that there is a uniformity within the messages being spread out to the community. The integration of the common risk factors approach helps ensure this, as it is realized many illnesses share similar risk factors. By dealing with these risk factors in health promotion programs can be made to maximize health outcomes.
controllable risk factors equate to 32% of Australia’s total incidence illnesses. The risk factors that affect poor oral health included diet, hygiene, smoking, alcohol and drug use, stress and trauma which are also common for other chronic diseases. If these factors are not managed, it will be difficult to assits the individual find health. Examples of these risk factors include smoking which costs up to 5.7 billion a year in lost productivity or alcohol which contributes to 1.9 million in health effects(The Pharmacy Guild of Australia., 2010).
As there are various risk factors that affect ones oral health, it is best to collaborate with the Allies of Health to gain help for the risk factors instead of relying only on the oral health professional to help for all risk factors. Equipped with the multiple health services, individuals are able be given all help possible to help reach good health as well as good oral health. (Sheiham A, 2000)
Allies of health are able to give specialized advice in their own field, e.g pharmacist can show a non-xerostomic drug or educational pamphlets that the pharmacist can provide regarding smoking cessation and alcohol use. Speech pathologists can help with issues with eating food. The early childhood nurse is able to provide advice about a child’s teeth by “lifting the lip”, diet information and also the management of stress such as post-partum/anti-natal depression. The Drug and Alcohol program is able to give help to assist individuals find control over their addiction.
Integration of the 5 principles of the Ottawa Charter
Health promotion is based around the Ottawa Charter, this is no different for oral health promotion.
To be successful the health promotion must incorporate 5 key principals:
Building healthy public policy
Create supportive environments
Strengthening community action
Developing personal skills
Re-orientating health services
Health promotion is the mutual work of what health is, income and social policies that provide equality to everyone. Oral Health promotion consists of the allies of health that assist in creating a healthy public policy. The joint work of the allies of health assists in identifying the factors that create bad oral health, and how to remove said factors. An example is the Early Childhood nurse, who provides new parents a “My First Health Record” (Blue Book).An Oral Health example could be that, an oral health professional may be the first see the signs of smoking or drug abuse. Advice can be given but a referral to another area of the allies of health such as the drug and alcohol service is the ultimate goal.
Health promotion can only exist if there is a good amount of cooperation within the community and between the alied health workers. Information received from an oral health professional is usually received in short unreggular times as it is usually during appointments they have contact. Therefore the importance is evident for allied health workers to assist each other in promoting not only oral health but all aspects of health. for example an oral health professional reffering a patient to a drug and alcohol worker or an pharmacist providing information on non-xerostomic alternatives to medicines they have.
Health promotion is not a task that can be done by a solitary organization. It is the multiple health services correspondantivly working together i.e allies of health. The allies of health that consists of the mutual work between the services that allows for proper health promotion to occur. True health promotion is an understanding that its not only being free from illness, it is that an individuals holistic health is of a adequate level. Hence the vital point that all allies of health must work together to not only treat e.g the oral cavity but also provide information for smoking cessation at the same time, providing insight and information of the illnesses one can contract. Hence it is not solely the oral health professionals responsibility to promote oral health, but it is also the role of all areas of the allies of health.
In conclusion it is consequently fundamental to involve allies of health in oral health promotion because by recognizing their roles within the community, oral health professionals can work together with other allies of health e.g drug and alcohol services to detract from only health education and enter a health promotionary phase. This will enable all the allies of health to have a higher success rate by being thoughtful to the common risk factors approach to health promotion thereby following the principals of the ottowa charter. As it is known, it cannot be done alone. It can only be done with allies.
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