Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Crisis at Christmas 2017

After last year's post about Crisis, of course it's clear that I wouldn't resist returning for another year volunteering to help the homeless population access dentistry at Christmas.

One of the dental vans in use this year


To learn more about Crisis, read my post from last year here

This year, I decided to volunteer at the other centre in South London and also on the set-up day. 


Setting-up Day


The first day that you can volunteer for Crisis at Christmas is the set-up day. Each centre (usually  at a school) needs to be made ready for guests to visit and stay over the Christmas period. For the dental team, this mostly is making sure the vans are ready to be used. 

I have worked on mobile dental units not only last year at Crisis, but also during my time working in my community dental service - but usually by the time I arrive, the van is all ready to go! The 2 vans donated by the community dental services (Kings, Bedford CIC, KCHFT) needed to be plugged and piped in. The process was useful for me to see especially as I am now heading out more in our dental van (in fact one of the vans donated to Crisis), so I can now rely on our drivers much less! 

We made sure not only each van was up and running, but also fully stocked up. As well as the vans, we also decorated the guest's waiting area with copious amounts of Christmas decorations that were kind donations. 

One of the most challenging parts of the day was setting up the decon area (a challenge for many dentists at the most of times!), in one of the school labs once we established how to turn the main water switch on. Aaaand with that we were READY!


Treatment Day


The next day, our Crisis team fully assembled with tinsel and wearing our best smiles, we set about treating the first Crisis guests of the year. 

I spent the morning on my van seeing whoever wanted to see us for whatever they may need or want! This included simple scale and polishes, fillings, extractions and I painted fluoride wherever I could. I loved chatting with the guests, especially learning about their backgrounds and personalities. Quite a few of the guests weren't British and required someone to translate especially when taking consent or filling in medical histories, but there were plenty of multi-lingual volunteers around. 

Despite it only being the first day, it was non-stop on the vans all day. In the afternoon, I split my time between running instruments between the vans and decon, attempting to sterilise instruments (and then immediately dropping them on the floor!) and drumming up business around the centre itself. 

Drumming up business also meant we got to check out what was going on in the rest of the centre, which included some classic karaoke and we spotted the hairdressers who seemed just as busy as we were!

I met some fantastic people in these 2 days and it was really nice to see everyone pull their weight and work together as a team so the service could run as smoothly as possible for the first day!

Our fantastic Crisis Team for Day 1

This year Crisis saw 431 guests of exams and treatment and amazingly this year for the first time ever, the other dental centre piloted a denture service which provided 24 dentures. Before this year, Crisis was unable to provide dentures for the guests and from my experience of seeing homeless patients so far, dentures are one of the most common requests when seeing a dentist. Thanks to DenTech for providing this service!

Once again, I had a fabulous time at Crisis and cannot recommend it enough if you have spare time over the Christmas period.

Bring on Crisis 2018!


Have you volunteered for Crisis Experience? What was your most memorable moment?  Let me know in the comments below. 

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