At Smile Together we’re all about tackling oral health inequality for healthier happier communities, often working in partnership for an even greater collective impact. Year-round our dedicated Outreach Team supports Cornwall Health for Homeless pop-ups in locations right across the county and in June 2023 we took our mobile dental unit with us for the first time, enabling us to provide immediate dental treatments to patients on-site.
The pop-up near Truro’s County Hall proved an excellent new venue for this initiative. With twenty one ‘Bunkabins’ – specially built Portacabin type buildings kitted out with basic cooking and shower facilities for those experiencing homelessness – and space to park our mobile unit, the location was not only accessible to the patients we saw but it was an environment in which they felt comfortable.
Cornwall Health for Homeless is such an important integrated healthcare partnership initiative and we thoroughly enjoy working alongside the other organisations who regularly attend. In Truro, individuals could access free dental check-ups and urgent treatment with our Smile Together team, health checks and liver screening from Healthy Cornwall, confidential support with alcohol, drugs or mental health from We Are With You charity, Hepatitis C Trust screenings and even hair and beauty treatments from Iconic Cornwall.
Our Outreach Dental Therapist, Nat, said: ‘Being able to take our mobile dental unit along made such a difference to those who find it difficult to access regular dental care, indeed healthcare generally. I was able to immediately help them, instead of referring them on to one of our dental practices and relying on them to make their own way there. There were lots of smiles as patients left after their check-ups and treatments with us and the other healthcare providers. It was such a rewarding day and one of the many reasons why I love my job!’
The national challenges facing dentistry are well documented and demand for our emergency, referral and private dental care across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly remains at an all-time high. Access to dental and other healthcare provision, particularly for vulnerable people, is especially challenging so these Health for Homeless pop-ups can therefore be genuinely transformational for those we reach.
Being able to take our own mobile dental unit into the heart of local communities enables us to make even more of a difference to those who need care most, underpinning our mission of tackling oral health inequality. Our teams thoroughly enjoy working alongside the other partners at these pop-up events and are thrilled to be part of this vitally important integrated healthcare initiative.
Watch our fab video from this Health for Homeless pop up on our Instagram here!