The Sparkle Fairy - Jo Kennedy
I qualified as a dental hygienist in 2002, 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 an appointment with me feeling fresh, clean, and healthy. The idea of The Sparkle Fairy was brought to life through my passion for oral health 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 had attending dental appointments, for a multitude of reasons. This got me thinking. Surely, everyone deserves to have high-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 patients' 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 plowed into starting up this new style of dental service. Domiciliary services are scarce, and those that are available do not involve many 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 patients and the creation of The Sparkle Fairy has elevated that to a new level. The way in which I get to know my patients now is a lot more intimate. Seeing 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 a patient’s home environment. The patient-hygienist 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 and feel more at ease in their own environment, 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 feel more relaxed under thos circumstances too.
One of my favorite aspects 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. The nurses and carers do an amazing job of 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 the older generation of patient feel more comfortable is so rewarding and so much more comfortable for them as they can be treated in their beds, in a wheelchair, on our chair, any way that makes them feel at ease which makes the whole experience a lot more comfortable and dare I say, enjoyable.
Starting our practice has been a very long road, filled with lots of paperwork, red tape, troubleshooting, and learning on the 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 ever have. Yes, we are still learning. I think we always will be, striving to improve and offer our unique and niche market leading dental service. But despite every adversity and every challenging twist and turn, I would not change a thing.
Starting this practice is the best thing I have ever done, we are so proud to be able to say we were the first private mobile hygienist practice in the UK and have hopefully contributed to opening up a new wave of mobile primary dental care allowing thousands, hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions of patients in the future, access to a new form of dental care that they never had before.