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2020 Goal: Oral Health Access for Aging Iowans

By Jill Feilmeier on December 17, 2013 in Giving Back


In 2012, the Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation announced the following long-term strategic goal focused on older adults: Every Iowa nursing home resident and homebound elderly person will have access to oral health care by 2020.

Since then, the Foundation has held two “actionable knowledge” sessions – Educate and Motivate – on oral health care for older adults. Educate focused on educating interested stakeholders on the oral health status of Iowa's aging population and identified best practice models found throughout Iowa and the United States.

Motivate, held last July, focused on identifying solutions in Iowa that can optimally improve access to oral health care for nursing home and homebound seniors. This event engaged representatives including nursing home leaders and staff; aging advocates and funders; and medical, dental, aging and public health professionals. There was overwhelming support to develop and implement a Senior Smiles dental home initiative, which would parallel the successful and sustainable efforts of Iowa's I-Smile™ program and integrate an oral health service delivery system.

The following workgroups were created following the Motivate session to help advance this initiative:

• Education and training
• Program and policy
• I-Smile expansion

These workgroups will continue to meet and develop action plans. These plans were presented at the third and final session, Activate, held in November. During Activate, the workgroups came together to develop and approve a comprehensive action plans. The group will be moving forward with forming a coalition to focus on access to oral health care for older adults in Iowa and will continue to move forward with the action plans into 2014.

Foundation 2020 Baseline Measures
The Foundation 2020 Baseline Measures presents data related to the long-term goals set by the Foundation to support and improve the oral health of Iowans. This report helps evaluate the operations, progress, and overall oral health of underserved populations.

Nursing facility residents enrolled in Medicaid and homebound Elderly Waiver recipients were used to evaluate the senior access goal. Unfortunately few measures for evaluating access to oral health care exist currently in the senior population. The Foundation recognizes that additional evaluation measures are needed.