Speech by Dr. Jimmy Devins, TD, Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children with responsibility for disability and mental health at the launch of a Report on Oral Health Promotion for Clients of St Michael’s House,Ballymun.

I am very pleased to be with you today to launch the Report on Oral Health Promotion for the Clients of St. Michael’s House. This report has been produced following an oral health project between St. Michael’s House and the Health Service Executive -Dublin North East Dental Services.

I wish to congratulate Dr Mary Ormsby, Principal Dental Surgeon and Elaine Teague, Regional Training Officer for St. Michael House, and the other staff members who carried out the research over an eighteen month period, resulting in the production of this important report on oral health promotion. Also, I wish to applaud and congratulate all of the clients, and also their carers, who have taken part in this project.

I am very pleased with the approach taken by St. Michael’s House in this project and the individual oral hygiene plan that was developed for each client. I am also pleased with the emphasis that this project places on the important of prevention in oral health care.

Turning to this study, I note that note that the primary aims of the study were to:

  • improve the oral hygiene of residents of St. Michael’s House,
  • raise awareness of the importance of service users oral health and hygiene  among front line staff and carers,
  • to establish regular hygiene routines for service users in the units in which the study was delivered.


I note that there are a number of short and long term recommendations of this report. Some of the key recommendations are that:

  • front line staff training is the most important variable in improving user oral health and hygiene,
  • new staff should receive training as part of their induction programme and all staff receive training at regular intervals


I welcome the findings and recommendations of this report and I wish you every success in their implementation. The implementation of the recommendations of this report will enhance the existing skills of staff at St Michael’s House while also improving the oral health of its clients. This report confirms the views that oral health is important for overall health, and that it needs to be integrated into healthcare generally. Good oral health assists in the prevention of cancers, heart disease and tobacco related illnesses and results in healthier life-styles.

I am very pleased to learn that your group is interested in developing best practice guidelines to support staff. The HSE Oral Health Promotion Team will deliver a training of trainers programme for staff. This will result in St. Michael’s House staff training frontline staff directly in best oral health practice for service users. A working group has been established to ensure that the learning from the research is put into practise in all St. Michael’s House centres.

The launch of this report today is a timely development as it feeds into work recently undertaken by my colleague, Mary Harney, TD when she announced the development of a new National Oral Health Policy.

The development of a new oral health policy document, the first in thirteen years, is being led by my Department in conjunction with the HSE.

The process of developing this new National Oral Health Policy will allow a critical examination of the many issues currently facing the dental sector in Ireland. It is also a means by which we can facilitate the planning and re-orientation of oral health services over the coming years. At the present time, we are engaging in a wide consultation with many stakeholders, seeking their views of what they wish to see in this new policy document.

In framing this new policy, I am pleased to highlight the fact that views have been sought from some of the main organisations representing people with disabilities, e.g. the National Disability Authority, People with Disabilities in Ireland, Disability Federation of Ireland and the Carers Association. In addition to seeking views from these organisations, my Department has also met with the Irish Society for Disability and Oral Health to get their important perspective on oral health needs for people with disabilities. A meeting is also scheduled for later this month with Principal Dental Surgeons from the HSE who have a specific interest in special needs dentistry.

Finally, I wish to thank again the staff, clients and carers of St Michael’s House for their hard work and determination in both participating in the project and producing the resultant report. I hope that this whole project a useful learning experience and one which they can continue to build on in the future.

I feel greatly honoured by your kind invitation to be here today and I am very proud to launch this report. I wish you all continued success with your work.