National Dental Nurses Day on 22nd November 2020 once again coincided with the Society of British Dental Nurses Annual Conference and Awards. In line with our ethos as an employee-owned community interest company, we’d offered our teams some free tickets to the virtual event and asked who they would like us to nominate for the awards this year.

There was a clear desire to acknowledge those who’ve been delivering patient care from our Urgent Dental Care Hubs in such challenging Covid times, and we are therefore thrilled to see them recognised as runner up for ‘Outstanding Team during Covid-19’. Congratulations to Liverpool Dental Hospital for scooping the win here, and in fact to all those dedicated individuals providing care at the ‘tooth face’ right now.

Congratulations also to our very own Joy Callender who won the Long Service Award and Dental Nurse Contribution to Charity Work Award – very deserving recognition and here’s why:

Joy began her dental nursing career in Birmingham at the age of 16 and later delivered oral health education in Scotland before joining Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly Primary Care Trust and subsequently Smile Together, progressing from dental nurse to specialist dental nurse, team lead, dental nurse manager, head of nursing and quality and now quality assurance and compliance.

In her varied and busy role Joy supports our clinical teams in the delivery of patient care according to procedures, guidelines and frameworks, and undertakes regular clinical audits to ensure compliance with CQC requirements and other clinical standards. Joy is our Caldicott Guardian and also sits on our Clinical Quality Committee where she helps to develop our policies and procedures. Joy is also our primary point of contact for patient plaudits, complaints, incident reporting and investigation, which she handles with patience, skill and compassion.

Joy leads a number of special projects that see Smile Together making a genuine difference to the oral health of local communities by reaching out to ‘hard to reach’ or vulnerable people. She heads up Brighter Smiles, Cornwall’s oral health campaign, which sees our oral health promotion dental nurses go into schools, nurseries and family hubs delivering oral health education, setting up toothbrushing clubs and applying fluoride varnish to children’s teeth. Joy also manages our Smiles at Sea project in partnership with other local and national organisations, which in non-Covid times brings a mobile dental unit to harboursides across Cornwall and Devon to offer free check-ups and advice to fishermen and their immediate families who rarely visit the dentist due to the demands of their work. Joy successfully organised a very different Smiles at Sea for 2020 (due to pandemic restrictions) which has seen our oral health nurses (including Joy herself) providing oral health advice to fishermen at the harboursides, as well as goody bags of oral health items and healthy snacks.

In the words of a dental nurse colleague who nominated her: “Joy has a vast knowledge of dental nursing and oral health services and always gives everything, no matter how she is feeling! She is one of the most kind and resilient people I have ever met who is passionate about making a difference and she really deserves some recognition for her loyalty to dental nursing and our company.”

Last year Smile Together dental nurse Debbie Williams won outstanding dental nurse for operationally delivering Smiles at Sea and volunteering in Morocco with Dentaid!