A program delivered by the HealthWISE Primary Health Care Nurses was a finalist for the Hunter New England (HNE) Health 2023 Excellence Awards, held in Tamworth on August 17.
HealthWISE and HNE Oral Health were shortlisted for a Keeping People Healthy Award under the High Value Health Care Awards category for their Rural Toothbrush Distribution program. The award recognises organisations that promote good health by raising awareness of healthy choices, preventing ill health and improving the overall health and wellbeing of the community. It was awarded to Population Health for their national safety surveillance of novel vaccines.
The Primary Health Care Nursing team partnered with HNE Oral Health to provide oral health education in rural and remote schools as part of the Rural Toothbrush Distribution program, embedded into a broader health program delivered by HealthWISE. The distribution program includes a free toothbrush and toothpaste each term for every child enrolled in participating schools, health information for parents and information on how to access free public dental services.
The program has had great success, and resulted in many positive changes. Schools who took part reported improvements in oral health as a direct result of the program. Prior to the 2022 program, only 12.5% of participating schools had received an oral health eduction session in the past 12 months, compared to 80% by the end of the year. Only 16.5% included oral health information in their school letters and social media pages. This increased to 60% by the end of 2022.
The program has proved popular, as 100% of participating schools in 2022 took part again this year. It has now been expanded to include over 50 rural schools.
This is the third award nomination for the HealthWISE nurses this year. The team was a finalist for the First Nations Health Award at the Hunter New England Central Coast Primary Health Network 2023 Primary Care Quality and Innovation Awards in June, where Senior Primary Health Care Nurse Chris Connor was inducted into the Dedication to Service Hall of Fame.