At Smile Together we’re all about tackling oral health inequality for healthier happier communities, often working in partnership to have an even greater impact.
We were therefore delighted to be invited to take part in Cornwall Health for Homeless, a health improvement initiative utilising pop-up clinics in locations across the county. The pop-ups are multi-disciplinary and provide services ranging from health checks, Covid vaccinations and help with drug and alcohol misuse to support for families in temporary accommodation, and now dentistry.
At the first pop-up in Penzance in October 2021 our team provided oral health packs, oral health advice and fluoride varnish application to help protect teeth. The location was such that we could not provide any additional care but we took along a laptop and arranged for urgent care appointments in our Lescudjack clinic the next day. All the patients turned up and a great deal of pain-relieving treatment was provided.
Rather serendipitously, the mobile dental unit that we hire each year from our good friends and fellow employee-owned CDS in Bedfordshire to deliver Smiles At Sea was already in West Cornwall pending its return on the Monday. A number of our dental nurses and a dentist volunteered that weekend too so we took the mobile unit to a location near St Petrocs Homeless Charity and provided dental care. Newquay was next and again hugely successful both with our team on site and also a dentist working in our nearby clinic who was able to provide same or next day urgent dental care.
Our teams thoroughly enjoy this joined-up working with other allied health professionals and offered use of our Harleigh Road Dental Centre in Bodmin for the December Health for Homeless pop-up. The outcome was fantastic – multiple rooms allowing for a host of healthcare provision including dental check-ups and urgent treatment with the Smile Together team, Healthy Cornwall health and liver screening, Covid and flu vaccinations, HIV and sexual health support from The Eddystone Trust and even hair and beauty from Iconic Cornwall and Chaos Group. Volunteer Cornwall supported on the day and folk were able to travel to and from the location for free on a Group Travel minibus.
Our generous teams had collected warm clothing donations and made Christmas gift boxes based on advice from Shelter including oral health products, hats, gloves, handwarmers, a puzzle book, clean underwear, baby wipes, talcum powder and sanitary products for women. Food packs were also provided with generous donations from Morrisons, Barnecutt’s Bakery, Proper Cornish Bakery, Aldi, Asda and Celtic Produce.
These pop-up events with integrated healthcare and other services make such a difference to vulnerable people. Whilst oral cancer screening one attendee, our dentist identified a soft tissue lesion requiring urgent referral and this person will now be supported to attend their local hospital appointment.
The future is looking bright for this integrated, value-based healthcare project of which Smile Together is thrilled to be a part.