Benefits Claimants In New Zealand Receive Text Encouraging Them To Clean Their Teeth

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It’s a scheme, which has been slammed by critics for being degrading; however, brushing rates have increased among benefits claimants ho have been receiving text messages to remind them to clean their teeth.

The Canterbury Health Board has been targeting a number of benefits claimants in the area, providing them with regular text messages to remind them to brush their teeth in a bid to improve standards of oral health.

The scheme was established in the wake of the board receiving a number of requests for expensive dental work from people who had been claiming benefits on a long-term basis. With funds limited and many dental diseases completely preventable, the health board decided to try a new approach.

During a trial period, which involved recipients being sent texts and sending them back to confirm that they had brushed their teeth, brushing rates increased from 53% to 73%.

Belinda Smith, a representative from the health board, said that smoking cessation text services have enjoyed great success and it was interesting to see that people seemed more inclined to brush during the trial period when they received a text reminder.

Despite the positive results, the scheme has been criticised by civil liberty and human rights groups. Batch Hales, from the New Zealand Council for Civil Liberties, said that “badgering” people who are unemployed and claiming benefits represents an intrusion on their basic rights.

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