ISDH Strategic Development 2020

Agreeing a vision for the Irish Society for Disability and Oral Health

This page summarises the process followed by the committee and membership of the Irish Society for Disability and Oral Health in agreeing a new Vision and Mission statement from 2016 to 2018, through to developing its objectives  in 2018. It is hoped that this process and the sharing of its outcomes will engage members and those who interact with the society in a transparent process. This is very much an account of the start of a process rather than a presentation of a final product.


To begin, the ISDH committee sought a strategic planning process that would:

  1. Clearly signpost a process with distinct steps
  2. Maximise membership involvement
  3. Be easily communicated with membership
  4. Be inexpensive and time limited
  5. Demonstrate openness and accountability

After consideration of a number of possible approaches, it was decided to undertake the visioning process according to the VMOSA principles (Vision, Mission, Objectives, Strategies, and Action Plans). This is a practical planning process designed to help community groups define a vision and develop practical ways to enact change (Community Toolbox, 2003). Based on the VMOSA method,  a plan was agreed by the ISDH executive committee to follow clearly defined steps to achieve a Vision and Mission statement agreed by consensus. The process undertaken and outcomes achieved are detailed  below.


Membership generated vision

In June 2016, all attendees at the ISDH annual conference were invited to respond to three simple questions to elicit their dreams for the ISDH. Sixteen attendees responded (13 members and 3 non-members). In total, 56 separate visions were provided. The individual responses are listed in full here.

Summary of item development


Number of responses

What is your dream for the ISDH?


What do you think should be the purpose of the ISDH?


What should ISDH do to achieve this?


Ranking and coding to refine vision

With a view to reducing and organizing these 56 suggestions, two members reviewed responses independently before 41 members completed an online ranking task generating a ranked list of 16 items. These were re-ranked by thirteen respondents, before being grouped into emergent themes. The themes that emerged at this stage were Advocacy, Community and Education. This picture ranks these items with colour coding to demonstrate the relative importance of themes.

Priorities generated, ranked and re-ranked by members to inform Vision and Mission statements.

Colour coding by themes: Yellow = Education, Red= Advocacy; Blue=Community;

1. Provide lectures at locations throughout the country, throughout the year; 2. Work with policy makers, such as the Chief Dental Officer, to promote the oral health of people with disabilities in Ireland; 3. Preserve, protect and promote the oral health of people with disabilities in Ireland; 4. Raise ISDH profile through networking with similar organisations; 5. Provide training/run short courses open to all the auxiliary dental team not just dentists; 6. Provide a strong voice in promoting the oral health of people with disabilities; 7. Mentor suitable young dentists; to encourage them to undertake formal postgraduate training to build a sustainable specialist base and leadership for the future; 8. Ensure that people with disabilities access appropriate oral health services; 9. Publish guidance on topics of relevance to those providing oral health care to people with disabilities; 10. Develop resources for Special Care Dental teams to share; 11. Provide mentorship for those providing oral health care to people with disabilities; 12. Continue to provide an annual conference; 13. Provide training courses on topics of relevance to those providing oral health care to people with disabilities; 14. Offer a point of contact for clinicians working with people with disabilities to seek advice from their peers; 15. Support General Dental Practitioners in providing oral health care to people with disabilities; 16. Offer a point of contact for clinicians working with people with disabilities to exchange information and views

Developing an interim Vision and Mission

Members of the executive committee met in June 2017 to discuss the outcomes of ranking and thematic coding. The output from the re-ranking process (Figure 4) was comparable to the ranking from the first round. This review stage gave the committee an opportunity to quantify the priority given to each suggestion and each theme. These data incorporated the thoughts and aspirations of the membership and reflected their involvement in the process. This meeting was facilitated and structured to generate an interim Vision and Mission statement.

Internal and external review

This interim Vision and Mission was circulated to the membership and comments were solicited. Five responses were received by email. One helpful response suggested emphasizing the link between oral health and general health, while another focused on the wording of the interim vision so as to avoid coming across as mawkish or trite. These suggestions helped mold the interim Vision and Mission that, in December 2017, was sent to twenty one external groups to offer external input as a final step in the validation process. There were eight responses from three external agencies.  Three questions were posed:


  1. How acceptable is this Vision statement to you and those you represent?
  2. How acceptable is this Mission statement to you and those you represent?
  3. Please list any areas for improvement for this Vision and Mission statement

Vision and Mission Statements

Following this extensive period of internal and external consultation, the consensus on the Vision and Mission Statements was:

 “Empowering people with special healthcare needs and those who support them to achieve oral health through advocacy, community and education.”.

The agreed Vision statement was:

“Equal access, oral health for all”.

Ongoing steps

Since developing the vision and mission, the Society has developed objectives to achieve this vision and these can be found here as our story continues….