‘All I Want for Christmas Day’ in Blackpool
People in recovery, and other groups who find it hard to access NHS dental services in Blackpool received essential dental treatment onboard a mobile dental unit operated by Dentaid. The project was funded by Horizon, Blackpool Council’s drug, alcohol and non-clinical sexual health support for Blackpool residents – and was the brainchild of Carole Houston, communications lead for Horizon, Janet Goodwin, president of the Oral Health Foundation and Blackpool resident, and Pam Swain, chief executive of the British Association of Dental Nurses, which is based near Blackpool. The event was attended by Eric Rooney, deputy chief dental officer.
Carole’s previous PR experience in dentistry had led to her meeting Janet and Pam, and also made her aware of the work done by Dentaid. Having obtained funding from Horizon to commission Dentaid, Carole went ahead organising the day at the Church Street centre used as a focal point for the recovery programme, liaising with Janet Goodwin on oral health education materials provided by the OHF and with Pam Swain, who asked for volunteer dental nurses from the BADN membership. Horizon volunteers, themselves in recovery, were also on hand to offer support to nervous patients.
Despite a couple of hiccups – fuses in the centre blew twice and the kettle and microwave had to be cannibalised to restore power to the mobile unit! - 47 patients were seen, including many who had been suffering long-term dental pain. One patient had five teeth extracted and a further 16 had at least one tooth removed. The team also provided scale and polishes, fillings, fluoride application for children and oral health advice. Several patients had not seen a dentist for several years, either because of access difficulties or because of previous difficult experiences.
“At Horizon we are very conscious,” said Carole, “that many of our clients find it difficult to access NHS dental treatment for various reasons. We therefore wanted to make dental treatment as accessible as possible for our clients and other vulnerable people in Blackpool. We commissioned the Dentaid team to bring their mobile unit into the heart of the recovery community in Blackpool to help to break down any perceived barriers. The event was a tremendous success and the feedback from the patients was very positive. So many patients had been in desperate need of dental treatment but either didn’t know how to access treatment or were too anxious to seek help. This initiative was created especially for our clients, bringing dental treatment directly to them.
“We were delighted that Eric Rooney came along to support the event, and his ideas for bringing various services together to improve access to dental care for our clients in future was a perfect outcome from a very successful day.”