The Crisis at Christmas Dental Service: a review of an annual volunteer-led dental service for homeless and vulnerably housed people in London

The Crisis at Christmas Dental Service: a review of an annual volunteer-led dental service for homeless and vulnerably housed people in London

Background

The UK charity Crisis originated in 1967 as a response to the increasing numbers of homeless people in London, and the first Crisis at Christmas event for rough sleepers was established in 1971. Since then, Crisis has provided numerous services over the Christmas period to the most vulnerable members of society. One of these is the Crisis at Christmas Dental Service (CCDS) which provides emergency and routine dental care from 23–29 of December each year. The charity is entirely dependent on voluntary staffing and industry donations including materials and facilities. This paper aims to assess the impact of the service over the last six years of clinical activity from 2011–2016.

Method

Anonymised data were collected from the annual CCDS delivered over the last six consecutive years. Services included: dental consultations; oral hygiene instruction; scale and polishes; permanent fillings; extractions; and fluoride varnish applications. In addition, anonymised patient feedback was collected after each dental attendance.

Results

On average, 80–85% of the patients were male and the majority were between 21 and 60 years of age. The most common nationality was British (46%). Over the six-year data collection period intervention treatments (restorations and extractions) remained fairly consistent, while the number of fluoride varnish applications and oral hygiene instruction have increased. The majority of patients reported positive satisfaction with their treatment and would have recommended the service to others. Approximately 75% of patients did not regularly attend a dentist outside of Crisis and a similar proportion were given information on where to access year round dental services for homeless people in London. The majority of dental volunteers felt that they enjoyed the experience and would consider volunteering again for Crisis in the future.

Conclusion

The Crisis at Christmas Dental Service has emerged as a valuable asset to the portfolio of resources accessible to vulnerable, marginalised people over the Christmas period and exposes the high dental need of the homeless population of London.

JOURNAL: British Dental Journal
PUBLICATION DATE: 2017