Dental nurse Kelly Brown shares her Mouth Cancer Action Month initiative. With a passion for supporting the provision of care to vulnerable adults across Birmingham, in particular homeless persons across the city, her audience was a targeted one...

Working as part of the Community Dental Services team in Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, one of our focus points for this year’s Mouth Cancer Action Month in November was to examine and check for signs of mouth cancer amongst this client group.

This year, we chose a charity who we already work closely with in Digbeth, Birmingham – SIFA Fireside. This charity supports adults who face all aspects of homelessness by providing support, access to other agencies as well as hot breakfasts and lunches.

It all began back in the summer when I emailed the events manager at SIFA, explaining our intention and also asking for myself, Gillian Howie (StR in Special Care Dentistry) and Lucy Edwards (Senior Dental Nurse – Special Care Dentistry), to come into SIFA to promote and raise awareness of mouth cancer.

The Oral Health Foundation was an excellent contact and resource for us to tap in to, not only provided downloadable posters and leaflets but was also available for support and advice.

In October, with just a couple of weeks to go, I started to prepare the promotion board and gather as much information that we could use on the day. Posters were displayed in and around SIFA informing people of the event that was going to take place on 15 November between 9.00am-12.00noon.

The promotion board consisted of written and pictorial information. Lucy was able to print leaflets – available from www.mouthcancerfoundation.organd – explaining the signs and symptoms of mouth cancer. The pictures show how to self-examine, which was great for those who didn’t wish to be examined on the morning.

The day arrived. It was dry but cold so I knew that people’s priority’s for that morning was to get warm and eat breakfast. The staff at SIFA provided us with a side room for the examinations to take place in private; this room was off the main hall where everyone gathers for food and drink. There are plenty of tables and chairs placed around the large room to accommodate the growing number of people that visit SIFA daily.

Throughout the morning, we saw 21 people and gave verbal and written information to 8 of them. Following their mouth cancer check, 2 out of the 21 patients were referred internally via the rapid access referral system into our Oral Medicine consultant colleagues based at Birmingham Dental Hospital.

The event was a great success in raising awareness of mouth cancer to a vulnerable population group in Birmingham. I would like to thank Gillian and Lucy for their support and everyone at SIFA Fireside for taking part in supporting such an invaluable event. It is our hope to roll this event out across each of our Community Dental Services locations for next year and continue to provide this invaluable service to our patients.