Facilitators of Successful Programs
There are several facilitators of successful oral health programs in rural communities:
Collaboration across different organizations allows for the development of new ideas and resources that benefit oral health programs. Some oral health programs work with a consortium of partners to identify and resolve program challenges.
Successful oral health programs have dedicated and experienced staff, such as dentists and program administrators, who believe in the program.
Having a strong foothold in the community is a major advantage for any organization leading or collaborating in a rural oral health program. Patients may be more receptive to education or outreach activities if they are conducted by an organization that they already know of and trust.
Residents of rural communities experience greater challenges accessing oral healthcare services. People may need to travel a greater distance, taking multiple hours to see a dentist. It is important for oral health programs to offer some flexibility, in the event that an individual is late or misses an appointment. This helps to reduce barriers to access.
When developing direct service rural oral health programs, it is important to work with providers and other program staff who are committed to working in an underserved area.
Rural programs often train providers and other staff about poverty and other similar issues, with the belief that an understanding of these issues will improve their relationships with the populations they serve. One resource that has been used in rural programs is the Ruby Payne Framework for Understanding Poverty.
For additional information regarding the key features that make programs successful, see Characteristics of Successful Programs in the Rural Community Health Toolkit.