Addressing inequality through public engagement
Dundee dental students describe a co-creation project
CR0041891, Jake Keith, Dundee. On Wednesday evening a group of dental students will be volunteering their time to meet Ukrainian refugees living at the Queen’s Hotel, offering them free dental advice, toothbrushes and equipment. It’s part of a group from within Dundee University that works within the community, giving people free advice and support in accessing dental services, which also helps them develop their personal skills. Could we please get some pics of the students at work and some pics of the Ukrainian refugees if they are comfortable being pictured. Picture shows; some of the dental students who volunteered to offer mouth health advice - l to r - Katie Munro, Shannon Polson, Hannah Milner, Ruby Soldan and Jessica Mannion, Queens Hotel, Nethergate, Dundee, 29th March 2023. Image: Kim Cessford / DC Thomson
As part of Dental Connect – a staff/student co-creation project at Dundee Dental Hospital and Research School – our aim is to reduce health inequalities by promoting access to oral health education and providing advice and resources for those most in need.
Our most recent event was held at a local hotel which houses Ukrainian refugees. We used models, aids and translated leaflets to promote dental-related advice, while providing resources such as free toothbrushes and toothpaste.
Although refugees are entitled to free treatment under the NHS, there is limited availability to be seen, with many Dundee practices unable to take on new patients. We offered and assisted anyone to access treatment in our student clinics. This self-referral pathway is available to anyone in our community, but a lot of those attending were unaware of this.
The event proved very successful, with those in attendance expressing their gratitude and dental hospital sign-ups reaching double figures on the night.
As students, we also beneftitted; not only did we improve our communication skills, but we gained a further appreciation of our broader role within the community, learning first-hand how impactful this can be. The evening proved a truly humbling, fulfilling experience.
Through acknowledging the obvious inequalities experienced by many on our doorstep —
and observing the impact that such events can have — an appetite to expand our reach has been fostered.
With plans in place to collaborate with local food banks and The International Women’s Centre, it looks to be a busy – but rewarding – future for Dental Connect.