Planning education case studies and exhibitions
Oral health education students studying for a UK qualification are required to carry out (and record) case studies on patients who fall within the target groups covered in this section, or on patients for whom there is a specific concern about their oral health that needs addressing. Case studies are also a good method of establishing sound oral health education practices for all patient sessions (see Chapter 16).
Details of each session should be recorded and patient records should include aims, objectives and an evaluation of the outcome(s).
Choosing case study subjects
Carrying out case studies requires much thought, input and dedication. They are also quite personal, can help the oral health educator (OHE) get to know patients well, and in doing so the OHE can become an important catalyst in changing patients’ oral health regimes.
Patients who require a fair amount of help and encouragement (and who are likely to keep appointments) should be chosen, and advice from your dentist or hygienist may help you select suitable subjects.
When deciding on case studies, try to choose patients who are keen to improve their oral health, and who have either:
After selecting your patient(s), the next step is to arrange several appointments in advance, making sure that you have allowed around 30 minutes for an adult patient. For children, you may need slightly more or less time depending upon the age of the child and the problems to be tackled. Remember that children (particularly pre-school age) have a short attention span.
It is a good idea to ask for sufficient notice from your dentist before seeing a patient, in order to study their dental records and plan the session effectively. Having studied the patient’s records and found what is required, guidelines on planning a session should be followed (see Chapter 16).
Putting yourself and the patient at ease (see also Chapter 15)
It is normal to feel nervous and apprehensive when talking to a patient, particularly if somebody else in the workplace is observing. However, once you have talked to the person, found out a little about them and planned what steps are required, the second visit (or patient) will not be nearly as intimidating. Remember that the patient may be more nervous than you.
Always greet patients warmly, introducing yourself with a smile, and invite them to remove outdoor clothing and take a seat (preferably in a comfortable chair in a setting free from dental equipment, noises and smells). However, this is not always possible – most hygienists and therapists carry out their sessions along with their clinical work, often with the patient in the dental chair. It is the educator’s attitude, body language and knowledge that put the patient at ease and helps achieve the desired results.
Do not expect miracles
Do not expect an instant change of attitude or behaviour in patients. It sometimes takes a few visits to get to know them and what goes on in their lives, before they are persuaded to change their behaviour. Therefore, be meticulous in obtaining as much background information as you can, which can be used in the opening greeting.
Hello, Mrs Jones, we have met several times when Mr Smith has been treating your children. My name is Ann, and Mr Smith has asked me to discuss little Freddy’s diet with you as he has already had two fillings. By the way, how is Freddy enjoying his/>