Future of Ageing Awards: Enhancing oral health care for aged care residents

The purpose-built on-site dental clinic at SVCS Heathcote. Dentist, Dr Ivan Chee (right), SVCS Heathcote Facility Manager Mark Aros (behind) and Health First Dental assistant.

St Vincent’s Care Services onsite dental clinic was recognised in the 2023 Future of Ageing Awards for its role in improving the quality and accessibility of services witnin a residential aged care setting. It was awarded highly commended in the Restorative/reablement care category.

St Vincent’s Care Services (SVCS) Heathcote Facility, located in Sydney, Australia, identified a pressing need for improved dental care services among its aged care residents. Recognising the challenges faced by elderly individuals, particularly those with mobility issues or cognitive impairments, SVCS sought to address these gaps in access to dental care.

The primary objective was to establish an on-site dental clinic within the Heathcote facility to provide comprehensive and timely dental services to residents. This initiative aimed to improve residents’ oral health outcomes, alleviate pain, and enhance their overall quality of life.


SVCS partnered with Health First Dental, a local dental practice, to co-locate a fully equipped dental clinic within the Heathcote facility. Dr Ivan Chee, the principal dentist at Health First Dental, invested significantly in transforming a decommissioned room into a state-of-the-art dental clinic. The clinic was strategically positioned near the facility’s main reception for ease of access.

The clinic operates one day a week, offering a range of dental services including routine cleanings, fillings, emergency procedures, and denture-related treatments. Each consultation is extended to accommodate the needs of immobile or frail residents, ensuring comprehensive care.

The new dental clinic at SVCS Heathcote (left) and the room under construction (right).


Since its inception in October 2022, the clinic has made significant strides in improving oral health outcomes and access to dental care for aged care residents. Notable outcomes include:

  • Decline in decay rates, particularly among dementia patients, due to regular maintenance and prompt treatment.
  • Reduced waiting times for dental appointments, with pain relief achieved within a week compared to previous wait times of up to six months.
  • Positive feedback from residents and their families, expressing gratitude for the convenience and quality of care provided by the on-site clinic.


The establishment of the on-site dental clinic has had a profound impact on resident satisfaction and overall well-being. Residents now have access to comprehensive dental care within the familiar environment of their residential facility, eliminating the need for costly and challenging travel arrangements.

Future Directions

Building on the success of the dental clinic, SVCS aims to explore further opportunities for enhancing resident services within the facility. Initiatives such as offering additional healthcare services, like massage therapy, are being considered to further improve resident experiences and satisfaction.

The collaboration between SVCS and Health First Dental exemplifies a proactive approach to addressing healthcare disparities among aged care residents. By prioritising oral health and fostering innovative partnerships, SVCS has set a precedent for delivering quality and accessible healthcare services tailored to the unique needs of elderly individuals in a residential aged care setting.

The 2024 Future of Ageing Awards open for entries on April 8, with final results unveiled at a ceremony in Sydney on August 29.


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