I qualified as a dental hygienist more than 14 years ago and I love my career: I have more passion for dentistry now than when I first qualified. I love being able to help my patients maintain a healthy mouth and take pride in them leaving our appointments feeling fresh, clean and healthy.
The idea of The Sparkle Fairy was brought to life through my passion for our chosen profession of dental hygiene and care for my patients. Over the years I have met so many wonderful patients who have often expressed to me the difficulty that some of their loved ones have attending dental appointments, for a number of reasons. This started me thinking. Surely everyone deserves to have good quality dental hygiene care and, furthermore, why not provide that to the patient on their terms rather than ours?
I knew that I wanted to provide a more flexible way of delivering dental hygiene care to suit my patient needs, and at a time and place that suits them.
A new concept
I had been considering this concept for a very long time, well before the implementation of Direct Access. I was, of course, very happy when Direct Access became a reality because it provided me with an opportunity to explore my goal - the provision of a new style of service to so many patients who could not easily access high quality primary dental care, for varying reasons.
It took a long time to set everything up, almost two years in fact, from start to finish, and all of my savings were ploughed into starting up this new style of dental service. Domiciliary services are scarce and those that are available do not involve many dental hygienists. Most domiciliary services are run by dentists, and hygiene appointments are carried out by dentists. I fully respect dentists, and have worked with some extremely talented individuals during the last fourteen years, who equally fully respect the work that I do. They appreciate that dental hygienists are integral to the practice environment, and vital in educating and motivating our patients to achieve and maintain their oral health.
I have always loved the relationship building element of our profession. I like to try and discover as much as I can about my patient, but The Sparkle Fairy has elevated this to a different level. The way in which I get to know my patients is a lot more intimate. Seeing people’s family photos, meeting the grumpy teenager, normally a hermit in the house, and even playing with the family pets are all part of working within someone’s home environment. The patient – client relationship is a lot more relaxed, which is one of the reasons I wanted to set up this type of practice. Patients are a lot more compliant which makes treating them so much easier.
I love working on my own terms, these patients are my patients and I can see them in ways that suit us both. I can set up treatment plans and treat the patients as I always wanted to, as I would want to be treated myself. It is lovely not to have a queue of patients waiting at the surgery door, which means as a clinician I am a lot more relaxed and find I can deliver the best possible care. Not having to work with one eye on the clock is absolutely fantastic, not only for me but also for the patient, and I believe my patients feels more relaxed under these circumstances too.
One of my favourite aspects of this practice is to treat patients in the care home, hospital and hospice environment - it is so rewarding. A lot of the time we are called in by family members as they have identified that their loved one has a very uncomfortable mouth. Our nurses and carers do an amazing job at looking after patients but do not have time to always care for their mouths the way the mouth needs caring for, so being able to go in and make these patients feel more comfortable is so rewarding. It is also nice for the patient as they can remain in their beds which makes the experience a lot more comfortable for them.
To start up our practice has been a very long road, filled with lots of paperwork, red tape, trouble shooting and learning as we go. But it is also one of the most rewarding and wonderful things I have ever done. I love my job more now than I have ever done. Yes, we are still learning. I think we always will be and at the moment we are still trying to get to grips with marketing, as no-one knows this service exists, and marketing is not something we learn at hygiene school. But despite every adversity and every challenging twist and turn I would not change a thing. Starting our practice is the best thing I have ever done, and we at The Sparkle Fairy are so proud to be able to say we are the first private mobile hygienist practice in the UK.
Making a difference, my way!
Dip Dh RCS (ENG)