2010 saw the publication of a review of primary care dental services in Ireland called the PA Consulting Report. This report identified the need for cohesive evidence based national models of care for people with disabilities in Ireland. Late 2011 saw the publication of the HSE Service Plan for 2012 which set out to enact many of the suggestions in this report.
The lead researchers on Project SMILE Ireland, who are involved with secondary and tertiary care for this group through the Dublin Dental University Hospital and Trinity College Dublin, met to discuss the opportunities that this development presented for people with disabilities in Ireland who use these services.
One thing led to another and we were lucky enough to build a core team of researchers and policy makers from Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, HSE Dental Services and Oxfordshire PCT and many more.
A first meeting
A Steering Group formed and met for the first time in May 2012 in the Dublin Dental University Hospital. Two fundamental questions were the subject of discussion:
Should we develop oral health services for people with disabilities in Ireland?
How is it possible to deliver a model for the delivery of oral health services to people with disabilities that is both efficient and high quality?
This meeting finished with agreement that the first step in developing services was to seek agreement on what dental services for people with disabilities should be like.
Since then Project SMILE Ireland has taken a stepwise approach to creating data to allow evidence based decision making for policy makers in Ireland.
The Delphi Panel
The Delphi Panel started in 2011 to answer what should dental services for people with disabilities be like. It took over a year to collect a group of experts suitable for the task. We started data collection in January 2013 and completed data collection July of the same year. This report was published in November 2014
The Focus Group
The focus group data collection was completed in July 2013. Researchers are finalising the analysis of this data and a report is imminent