Big smiles for workplace dental scheme
A workplace initiative investing in employees’ dental care has got a lot of people smiling.
Aisake Nu’u’s teeth are healthier and brighter since joining the dental scheme at Tumu Timbers, where a weekly $15 wage deduction goes towards dental care to address his persistent toothache.
Nu’u went for an initial dental assessment at Dental @ 105 and was given a treatment plan to improve his oral health and rid his dental pain.
“I’d never been enrolled with a dentist but Tumu Timbers made it so easy for me, they booked my appointments and the wage deductions meant I wasn’t faced with a big bill at the end.”
Kylie Truman, Health and Wellbeing lead at Tumu Timbers, said the company had been on a health and wellbeing journey for some time.
“We realised that oral health was an important part of our staff’s wellbeing after one or two needed time off due to dental pain and then required financial assistance to pay for emergency dental work.
“We worked with Dental @ 105 to design and implement a programme called Floss Like a Boss. Staff who joined agreed to a weekly wage deduction, either $15 or $30 to add a whānau member to the programme, which then paid for a dental assessment, x-ray and clean with Dental @ 105 and a personalised treatment plan.
“Depending on the estimated cost for the required treatment, most staff complete another weekly pay deduction for a certain period of time, so the work can be completed in an efficient manner.”
Tumu Timbers worker Aisake Nu’u. Photo supplied.
As a commitment to employee wellbeing, Tumu Timbers contributed a one-off $170 to employees’ treatment plans, Miss Truman said.
“We also provide administration support and allow staff to attend appointments during work hours if needed, making it work for our people.”
Truman said there were currently 50 Tumu Timbers employees on the programme – 18 of these had also added a whānau member to the programme.
“This proactive approach means staff are returning to work sooner, avoiding painful infections, potentially avoiding losing teeth and feeling better about their personal appearance,” Miss Truman said.
Kelly Richards, Special Projects Lead Population Health, Hawke’s Bay DHB said Floss Like a Boss was a great example of a community-led programme to improve oral health and was supported by the DHB.
“Accessing dental care can be challenging for those on lower incomes because almost all adult dental treatment is provided by private dental practitioners and most people only attend a dentist when they have a problem or end up seeking emergency hospital care.
“Floss Like a Boss makes dental care affordable and accessible and by focusing on prevention they’re potentially keeping people out of ED waiting rooms.”
Richards said employers could consider how they might minimise the impact and risk of poor oral health on their staff which would ultimately maximise good outcomes for both staff and the business.
Hawke’s Bay DHB will formally evaluate the programme and use the findings to inform and possibly influence policy.
Nu’u said thanks to Tumu Timbers he now makes sure to go for his annual dental check-ups.
“I also smile more now to show off my healthy, white, teeth,” he said.