Harleigh Road, Bodmin – brand new purpose-designed and accessible dental centre for our community in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly

When we launched in 2016 as an employee-owned dental social enterprise and community interest company, one of the things our team felt passionately about was enhancing our clinical environments and treatment options for patients – to improve our community dental services, to exceed patient expectations and enable everyone to deliver above and beyond what we’re commissioned and contracted to do. Underpinning our mission of ‘tackling oral health inequality’.

We therefore purchased the wonderful former grammar school on Harleigh Road in Bodmin and have transformed it into a brand new, purpose designed and accessible dental centre for our community – take a ‘walk through’.

Firstly however we commissioned PFA Research, a reputable independent market research company based in Cornwall, to consult with our emergency and special care patient groups: 

  • Their emergency care on-line survey, conducted over a six-week period in 2017, generated nearly 1,100 responses – the key issue identified was the length of travel time to reach an appointment but 63% of patients surveyed were comfortable with travelling 30-60 minutes or more, thus supporting our proposed new location
  • Their special care telephone survey targeted 274 individuals representing 448 patients (the number of retained special care patients in North East Cornwall) and reached 96 people. 98% of those respondents encountered at least one type of challenge when going to the dentist – most commonly relating to toilet and parking facilities, reception and waiting areas, lack of recovery or quiet space and additional treatment options on site. Their lowest priority issue was travel time, and overall 60% of patients and carers felt that a new dental facility would address their needs


So not only were our patients supportive of our plans, but NHS England backed us to the hilt, granting formal approval to proceed in September 2018. We also secured £1m investment from Big Issue Invest – read more about this here.


Our shared vision for the building was to enhance dental services and quality of provision, delivering an outstanding patient experience. Harleigh Road has:

  • Easy, accessible parking for our patients right outside the main entrance including spacious disabled parking bays with a disabled access ramp and plenty of extra space for manoeuvring even the largest wheelchairs.


  • A dedicated reception area with specially trained receptionists to meet and greet our patients and anyone accompanying them. They offer patients all the help and support required both before and after treatment, with discrete and comfortable areas close by for those patients who need privacy or are unable to manage with a more open environment. There are induction hearing loops at both receptions and a mobile one for use in surgeries. 


  • For our special care patients with more complex requirements, and who are unable to mix with our other patients, the choice to enter our centre through a dedicated access point – special care purposefully-designed into this caring patient environment.


  • All the up-to-date dental equipment you would expect in a specially designed dental centre including the only bariatric chair in Cornwall, allowing patients who have limitations in health and social care due to physical size, health, mobility and environmental access to be safely treated on the same dental chair as all other patients. This dual-purpose dental chair also doubles as a wheelchair tipper for those patients who are unable to transfer into a routine dental chair, and it can accommodate any larger than average wheelchairs:
Wheelchair tipper in action in clinic low res

“If you use a wheelchair and need to use the wheelchair tipper, do not hesitate.

It is very easy to use and once tipped, as comfortable as you can be. It doesn’t take long, is very smooth, not jerky.”

– Harleigh Road patient


  • Full accessibility to all wheelchair users – we even have a wider access door into the surgery containing the bariatric chair and wheelchair tipper.


  • A recovery area for patients who have received dental treatment with sedation.


  • A specially adapted changing facility meeting Doc M specifications for those that need extra support when going to the bathroom – an equally important addition to our dental centre for our special care and looked-after patients which is also available to anyone in the local community who may find this useful. This doubles as an adult changing area with a mobile hoist if transferring to the adult changing table and baby changing facility.


  • Interior decor and a space which has been professionally designed to create a calm, stress-free environment for patients to relax before seeing the dentist, including a children’s area.

Reception area at Harleigh Road dental centre showing seating and children's play area  Brighter Smiles information displayed in children's play area at Harleigh Road dental centre

  • Brand new surgeries designed for the comfort of our patients and our clinical teams.  In each surgery there is brand new equipment including ambidextrous dental chairs and carts, an intra Oral X-ray and Vista Scanner for taking x-rays for diagnostic purposes and a dedicated x-ray room for taking OPG’s. Our X-ray screens feature RD50 X-ray glass which offers a minimum of 1.80mmPb protection.


  • An on-site, up-to-date decontamination facility for sterilisation and decontamination of our dental instruments and equipment, with dedicated decontamination technicians and an in-house courier service.


Everyone agreed the importance of maintaining the beautiful aesthetics of the building and noting its history. Therefore, the large traditional windows have been retained allowing natural light to flow into each surgery and the building as a whole. As the refurbishment progresses and we find things of notable value, these have been retained for the future.

Recognising the health and wellbeing of our own people is an important factor in the delivery of an excellent dental service for our community, Harleigh Road has dedicated, specially designed quiet areas for our teams to relax before and after work and at lunch times, both inside and outside the building, which is itself located in an attractive part of Bodmin, not far from the town centre.


We are fortunate in having an in-house Systems Support team who work closely with our external IT provider ITEC in maintaining our IT network which includes a Patient Management System (Dentally). 


Brady Construction, a Cornwall-based family building firm, was commissioned and began work on the Harleigh Road site in September 2018 – as part of their contract they also committed to become a significant supporter of Brighter Smiles, our oral health campaign. Together we achieved project completion at Harleigh Road on time and on budget in Spring 2019.


In June 2019, very soon after opening our new dental centre at Harleigh Road, we held our annual Smile (Get) Together there and had great fun recreating our own ‘smiley’ as part of National Smile Month.



Take an online ‘walk through’ via this fantastic film created by Ocean3D thanks to generous funding from Cornwall Autism Society (noting there have been further adjustments made to the disabled toilet facility since this film was made):



Ultimately Harleigh Road is a development we can all be proud of – it certainly underpins our vision of creating happier healthier communities.

Some images for illustration purposes only