Find out more about the people making the decisions and calling the shots in the DHAA.
Every fortnight we ask various movers and shakers, in the association, a set of questions. This week we catch up with Margie Steffens, the DHAA National Chair for Aged Care.
- Why did you decide to become a dental hygienist/OHT?
After working in many different facets of the workforce from pharmacy, hospitality, office, retail cosmetics, pharmaceutical supplier, and airline, I took a job as a dental assistant in my local dental clinic and discovered the possibilities of providing care. In particular care for people who were anxious and needing encouragement to look after their dental health.I had previously been a dental-phobe! So with great expectations I believed that I could help make a difference.
- What was your favourite subject during hygiene/OHT training?
Pathology and sociology (yes that’s two)... actually, anatomy and physiology as well. I can’t choose really!
- What do you love most about being a DH/OHT?
The possibilities. There are so many opportunities to be a catalyst for change, innovation. I love the people that I work with – this includes patients, colleagues and the various organisations, support agencies, other universities, and finally, the ability to improve quality of life in the community and improve overall health outcomes.
- Tell us about your current role with the DHAA, and why you decided to get involved.
I am currently the National Chair for Aged Care and represent the DHAA at meetings with the National Aged Care Alliance. The alliance is comprised of 80 peak bodies involved in aged care, disabilities, service and accommodation. They meet to discuss and inform the government about necessary services, changes and obligations needed to provide healthy and supported Ageing.
I have 25 years experience of working in special needs dentistry, disabilities, aged care and homelessness. I now believe very strongly that if one has a passion and an acquired skill-set, that these must be harnessed and used to benefit and advocate for people whose voices are often ignored and rarely heard.
- Who is the person that most influenced you, and how?
Dr John McIntyre – a kind and generous dentist who was influential in establishing dental hygiene here in Australia.
I had the privilege of working with him in a High Caries Risk Dental research service that investigated out of control dental disease in a marginalised population in Adelaide. His patience and thorough approach, and the debriefing sessions our small group shared, were perhaps the beginning of my education in providing better dental care for people who struggle daily to be self-managing. He remains a valued and dear friend to this day.
Also, Dr Liz Coates who was the founder of Special Needs Unit at Adelaide Dental Hospital
I worked with Liz for over 20 years in the Special Needs Unit, learning to understand complex medical conditions – both physical and intellectual.
Liz has retired now, but the lessons learned about compassion, thoroughness, and maintaining a sense of humour stay with me.
- What are you currently reading?
I am reading a few at the moment.
The Rosie Project;
Dangerous Medicines and Organised Crime;
The Arsenic Century;
and The Cherokee Trail of Tears.
- Where do you go to escape?
1) The art gallery
2) Catch up with a good friend for a meal, or glass of wine or a coffee somewhere local and friendly.
3) Go for a walk and find a quiet spot to read... and have a good cup of coffee... or maybe a nice glass of red!
Keep an eye out for next time, when we will get to know another proud DHAA volunteer workforce.