I’m a Complex Care Outreach Nurse working as part of the Public Health and Inequalities department with the Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust.
Providing healthcare to the community
I’ve been in nursing for 20 years, and my background is in community nursing in adults. I specialised in tuberculosis nursing before moving on to safeguarding adults and then taking up this outreach position. My position was originally created during COVID, when health inequalities became more evident than ever, to address the difficulties that certain hard-to-reach client groups face when accessing health services.
My position generally involves providing healthcare to anybody who is homeless, temporarily housed, or hard to reach. I run daily clinics in homeless or outreach centres such as Dover Outreach, Catching Lives in Canterbury, or the Rainbow Centre in Folkestone. These clinics grant me access to people who might not necessarily go visit a GP or get a hospital appointment, so I can help them access the care they need and support them in registering with local GP surgeries that I have connections with.
Dental Bus visits to Emmaus Dover
I live in Dover myself, so I’ve known about Emmaus Dover for quite some time. When I came into post, I approached them to find out more about how their companions accessed healthcare, and their Community Leader mentioned how hard it is for them to access NHS dentist appointments. We are currently lucky enough to have funding from NHS Charities Together to fund a Dental Bus that pays visits to hard-to-reach communities to provide dental care on the spot, so we arranged for it to visit Emmaus Dover recurrently in order for companions to get the care they need.
The way the bus works, it essentially visits our client groups in key convenient locations. A voluntary dentist and voluntary health clinician visit the community along with myself to welcome companions onto the bus, take their information and tend to their dental needs. We do X-Rays, extractions, and anything really other than cosmetic care, and it’s all done on the spot and on the bus, which has all the necessary equipment.
My role on the bus is mainly to welcome companions and introduce them to the service, as a lot of people don’t like the dentist or can be a bit intimidated by it, so it’s nice to have somebody there that they recognise and is able to explain everything to them.
We’ve been to Emmaus Dover twice so far. We are planning to continue this and we are working to extend the care on the bus to offer podiatric care as well. In the meantime, I’m also supporting the community with other health needs, not just dental – making sure companions are referred to GPs for certain things and picking up on any other issues, such as blood pressure.
Making a difference
I have had a lot of good feedback from clients that use the bus who said they were really impressed with the service that they’ve received. Companions are happy that they’ve been able to see a dentist, and especially that the service comes to them, because I think that takes a lot of stress out of it. They felt welcomed and listened to by the dentists, so it was a very positive experience overall.
I think Emmaus Dover’s model is such a good concept, helping people rebuild their lives by offering work and purpose as well as home and community. This has a really positive impact on the people who use the service but also the overall community, as it is an exchange that involves everyone. Emmaus Dover helps people rebuild their lives, and granting access to healthcare is a crucial part of this. I am pleased that we are able to help with this and will continue to work to make it happen.