Feeling like a healthy and valued member of society is difficult for many of Franco Orsatti’s clients who are homeless. The people he serves as a Housing Support Worker at The Station rely on Mr Orsatti’s team to ensure dignity and respect as well as access to critical community and health services. “Arranging appointments and arriving at a dentist can be difficult and daunting for someone who is homeless and who doesn’t regularly access health services,” said 56-year old Mr Orsatti, who accompanies clients to Filling the Gap clinics to offer moral support.
“Receiving dental treatment is important but many of our clients are dealing with drug and alcohol abuse so teeth often aren’t a priority and they miss out on any attention.” Mr Orsatti says his clients are always happy after Filling the Gap clinics. “Many homeless people I work with have only ever been to a dental hospital and had bad experiences with long waiting times and had feelings of being discriminated or had trouble advocating for themselves,” he said. “Coming from a shelter environment a lot of our clients have very bad teeth. It takes some effort to talk clients into the possibility of caring for their own needs,” he said.
“Many homeless people do not feel equal to everyone else but our clients are happy to attend ADA NSW clinics because Filling the Gap volunteers are happy and friendly to our clients. ADA NSW volunteers make patients feel important and fix their teeth too.” “One client of ours did not have teeth for more than 20 years, then got dentures from ADA NSW. You just can’t imagine the difference that makes in someone’s outlook for life.” Mr Orsatti said several clients from The Station experienced ongoing dental pain and have been very relieved to get treatment. He encourages everyone to be understanding to people who are homeless.
“Most people without a home have had a rough time and they deserve adequate and secure accommodation, a healthy outlook as well as personal autonomy and dignity,” he said. “The Station is grateful and happy to have ADA NSW’s support to help our clients,” he said. “Our clients feel a certain comfortability knowing that the ADA clinic (caters) for the homeless unlike the dental hospital were the clients feel judged by staff and the public so they don’t end up attending appointments,” he said. Of the 76 clients from The Station who have signed up for dental services since 2018 Mr Orsatti says 103 appointments have been made with Sydney clinics, including many with ADA NSW. “Our clients need to be encouraged to go and see a dentist making Filling the Gap a perfect option for people who are homeless, especially when transport is organised for them because many homeless people don’t have an Opal card.”
“Our clients need to be encouraged to go and see a dentist making Filling the Gap a perfect option for people who are homeless, especially when transport is organised for them because many homeless people don’t have an Opal card.”