24 Jun 2018  •  Dental Health, CSR  •  4min read By  • Megan Thomas

An introduction to BrushUpUK

BrushUpUK is an exciting and innovative charity providing free oral health education through a volunteer network of qualified oral health educators from local dental practices.

BrushUpUK was the dream of our founder, Megan Thomas, starting her career as a dental nurse in 2006 and qualifying as a dental hygienist in 2013. It grew as an idea to create a charity to train terminal care nurses in evidence-based and proven oral care programmes that they could use to the benefit of their patients. Our volunteer trustees have embraced this concept and have tested and developed the ideas practically.
Our main problem was how to channel our enthusiasm and make the programmes sustainable both financially and educationally, despite increasingly less government funding for dental health education. The December 2015 NICE guidelines on oral health promotion highlight the need for a more preventive approach to dental care. To develop our key performance indicators, we link our presentations and evaluations to ‘delivering better oral health’ and the NICE guidelines.

‘Working in our practices, treating our own patients isn’t making a dent in the 47% of parents whose children don’t see a dentist; the 355,000 people who need end-of-life dental care every year; the 845,000 dementia sufferers or the 1,492,950 special educational needs children who receive very little dental care’

Our concept is to harness the skills and theoretical knowledge of dental professionals working in general practice throughout the UK to reach out to their communities on a voluntary basis.

“Our model has grown rapidly; in 3 years our pilots have developed into fully operational groups in 11 locations nationally, and have served over 6000 people.”

Practices release their trained oral health educators once a month to spread the oral health message to targeted local groups, with the guidance, supervision, evidence-based materials and presentations provided by BrushUpUK. The volunteers are paid as usual by their practices, who in return become affiliates of the BrushUpUK charity.

This enhances the philanthropic profile of the practice, and also gives each educator the opportunity of using their expertise to really make a difference to a much wider range of people.

BrushUpUK administration checks all volunteers for DBS, CPD and qualifications. We then provide tailored presentations for the preferred audience chosen by the volunteer. This gives an inexperienced volunteer the opportunity to grow in confidence by starting with a group
such as a local school, and then progressing up to educating healthcare professionals such as oncology care teams.

Our dream of educating all types of carers has already taken us into 10 branches of vulnerable ‘at risk’ groups who are now being educated in preventive oral health. We have also undergone a two year project with Public Health England in Wiltshire to educate both staff and clients within substance and alcohol rehabilitation centres.

Our model has grown rapidly; in 3 years our pilots have developed into fully operational groups in 11 locations nationally, and have served over 6000 people. Our spending has been invested in the production of our presentation material, supplemented with products purchased from the BDHF, which are scalable with the growth of BrushUpUK.

We have been kindly supported by DentalSky who provide seven hours of administration weekly to allow the charity’s objectives to be met. Up until this point BrushUpUK has been funded solely by small donations and sponsored events. The FiveGoForth challenge will be the largest influx of funding that BrushUpUK has received. We are extremely grateful to Chris Barrow, Les Jones, Sheila Scott, Simon Tucker and Ashley Latter who will be taking on the huge challenge of cycling almost 1,000 miles to raise funds for three wonderful charities including ourselves, and to DentalSky, Practice Plan and Wesleyan for sponsoring the ride to ensure that every penny raised will go to the charities.

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