Introduction/Planning Planning
e. What are other program planning considerations?

Once you decide on the populations you wish to serve and you know something about their oral health needs, outline your goals and the outcomes you would like to achieve.

Examples of Goals and Objectives for Mobile or Portable Dental Care Programs

Goals are broad conceptual statements, while Objectives are more specific, measurable statements that should be achievable, and include a timeframe.

Goal 1. Increase the availability and timeliness of comprehensive dental care for children ages 1-18.

Objective 1.1. By June 30, 2007, 80% of the children eligible for care in the mobile clinic program will complete all recommended basic preventive and restorative care within 3 months of their first appointment. (baseline: 50%)

Goal 2. Expand the options for providing community-based preventive oral health services for pregnant women and young children.

Objective 2.2. By July 1, 2007, 40% of mothers receiving prenatal care through the health department's mobile van will also receive oral health anticipatory guidance, preventive dental services, and referral to a dental home. (baseline  0%)

Goal 3. Expand the options for seniors in congregate and residential care facilities to receive comprehensive dental services.

Objective 3.1. By the end of fiscal year 06, only 5% of frail residents will need to be transported to a hospital setting for dental care. (baseline: 20%)

Be clear about your motivations for wanting to create a program. For example, is your primary goal to provide services to an underserved group or is it to provide educational experiences for dental or dental hygiene students? Service oriented programs vs. educational programs may have very different objectives, staffing patterns and scheduling issues, although the activities to accomplish the objectives are similar. Are you trying to raise awareness of oral health problems to gain more funding for a variety of programs, or are you trying to fill a specific gap in the local dental care system? If you can't meet all the needs of your target population, how are you going to interface with other community resources to help patients get all the care they need?

Think carefully about what impact your program will have. Thinking through ways to evaluate your program up front is also crucial so that you can document your beginning (baseline) situation and then compare your accomplishments to that baseline. Evaluation is an integral part of program planning and should not be left until the end of a grant or when a program is threatened to figure out how to document success. See Chapter 5 for more information on evaluation.

What preliminary decisions must be made? View a case study of a decision-making process about starting services for elementary school children who are not receiving regular care. Read the following case studies, stories or Web site descriptions to see a variety of programs and how they were developed or expanded.

Three other programs are featured in Chapter 4 as hybrid systems: Apple Tree Dental, USC Mobile Van Program and Rochester's Collaborative School-Based Dental Program.

Examine the environment in which the program will be created - what are the resources and liabilities you currently have? How will other dental providers in the community react to your program? A useful exercise to examine the many variables is through a SWOT analysis of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. After doing this analysis, if you decide there are significant weaknesses and threats, these will need to be addressed prior to embarking on any mobile or portable program. A good way to reduce these problems is by establishing strong community partnerships.