National award for dental project
A ground-breaking project which delivers a dedicated dental service for children in care in North Tyneside has won a national award.
Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust’s initiative for looked after children in the borough won the ‘continuity of care’ award at the Patient Experience Network (PEN) awards.
The scheme, which operates in partnership with professionals responsible for the children’s welfare and wellbeing, ensures there is no interruption in dental care for children entering care and has resulted in improvements in their oral health.
The project, run by the Trust’s Northumbria Dental Service, started as a 12-month pilot in conjunction with North Tyneside Council in 2010 however, due to its success, has continued.
Community dental officer Dr Alex Rushworth, who co-ordinates the project alongside senior oral health promotion officer Jo Mackintosh, said: “We are really excited and proud to have won this award. This service was designed for the looked after children of North Tyneside with the help of the children, young people and carers themselves.
“Although Northumbria Dental Service already assessed and treated looked after children, this service means we have more robust links with everyone involved in the care of these patients. It means that more children are able to access our service and benefit from a project specifically designed to deliver health benefits to them.”
There are plans to extend the service into Northumberland.
Northumbria Dental Service provides specialised NHS dental and oral health promotion services for adults and children in Northumberland and North Tyneside who have been referred by a medical or dental practitioner or other healthcare professional.
These specialised services are usually unavailable in general dental practice and include orthodontics, sedation, general anaesthetics, dental surveys and special care dentistry.
The award means that Northumbria Healthcare has triumphed at every PEN awards – for the last three consecutive years.
Annie Laverty, the Trust’s director of patient experience, said: “It is brilliant news that we have again been successful at the only awards which reward teams who really go out of their way to improve the quality of care for their patients.
“This project was truly unique as the service was tailor-made to meet the needs of the children in full partnership with those responsible for their welfare, the children themselves and their carers.
“It is a clear example of how our staff are committed to finding innovative new ways to improve the experiences of patients and it is fitting that they have been rewarded in this way.”
Cllr David Lilly, cabinet member for children, young people and learning at North Tyneside Council, said: “I am delighted that the team has been recognised as doing a fantastic job for looked after children.
“The corporate parenting of children in the council’s care is best done when agencies work together and we have here a great example of just that – a team of talented and skilled people using their time and energy to improve the health of children living with carers and in residential care.
“The recognition is richly deserved and highlights the improvements made for looked after children.”
Ruth Evans, director of The Patient Experience Network, said: “We’ve been running our awards for three years and each year since our inception Northumbria Healthcare has been a category winner. I would like to congratulate them on this fantastic achievement.
“The three awards are testament to the desire of staff to work together to improve patients’ experiences and the vision and culture at the organisation that has created an environment where teams feel they can make a difference and are encouraged to celebrate their successes.”
Northumbria Healthcare was also shortlisted for two other PEN awards – for a project to help people in Northumberland who care for family and friends to access health and social care support and for its extensive patient experience programme which involves acting on the feedback of thousands of patients.
The dental team worked with researchers from Cardiff University to evaluate the project with children, young people and carers, thanks to a flexibility and sustainability research grant from by the Trust.