Those in our society with an intellectual or multiple disability, very vulnerable people, frequently have few meaningful and beneficial assets per se, but especially in comparison with the general society
Although the asset to which we refer is very important to the general society, the end result of this asset is far more important to those who have so little in their lives, as this asset provides them with an area of enjoyment not generally limited by their disability. We refer to teeth, providing the ability to enjoy food as we were all intended.
Despite the need for teeth to be kept in good condition, to allow this one real avenue of enjoyment, this area of personal hygiene has, and frequently does receive poor attention by many direct care staff in accommodation services.
Many of those who came out of institutions had lost most or all of their teeth through neglect, and now have to have their food pureed
In the present group homes, teeth cleaning and regular dental appointments are not a personal hygiene priority for many direct care staff.
Certainly, there are few behaviour management programs focused on moving residents with resistance to teeth cleaning and regular dental care, towards a meaningful process, rather than the person having a general anaesthetic (“GA”) to allow dental care, by a dentist, to occur.
An example of how a ‘behaviour modification program’ can achieve good results, was where an autistic person would not allow any form of dental care by a dentist.
Although it took four years to move from periodic GA’s, to a full and regular clean and check in the dentist’s chair, this was real quality of life/normalisation move for the person.
The move was achieved with the use of a ‘banana lounge’ and a few ‘dental tools’, simulating the dentist’s chair. Steady programming using these tools, followed by gentle trials in the actual dentist’s chair - gradually achieved meaningful results.
Moving those with resistance to standard community practices requires time, effort and dedication. Most of all, an ‘action plan’ focused on the task and desired outcome.