A dental centre for Cornwall, specifically designed and adapted for patients with special needs including mental health conditions and Autism, is set to open in Spring 2019 after a one million pound investment from Big Issue Invest (BII).
Big Issue Invest provided investment to Smile Together CIC, a local employee-owned social enterprise and Community Interest Company, in late 2018. The investment will help to finance the refurbishment of a former grammar school into a purpose-built dental centre for the community. Resonance, a social impact investment company, worked with Smile Together as advisers on the investment raise.
The opening of the centre, located on Harleigh Road in Bodmin, Cornwall will increase access to emergency, specialist and routine dental care, provide enhanced access and facilities for all patient groups, and also increase the availability of preventative support, education and treatment programmes. An adjoining part of the building will eventually house other local businesses, promoting further financial sustainability for Smile Together.
Refurbishing the building means Smile Together will be able to provide full disabled access with parking directly outside, facilities accessible by all types of wheelchair, and including the only bariatric chair in Cornwall, allowing patients who have limitations in health and social care due to physical size, health, mobility and environmental access to be safely treated on the same dental chair as all other patients. This dual-purpose dental chair also doubles as a wheelchair tipper for those patients who are unable to transfer into a routine dental chair and is able to accommodate larger than average wheelchairs. There will be a ‘Changing Places’ accessible toilet facility, four well-equipped dental surgeries and waiting areas designed to ensure the comfort of all patients and visitors to the building.
Smile Together currently operates from 13 sites across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. They already treat over 40,000 patients per year including more than 4,000 special needs patients each year across the region, twice as many as they are contracted and funded to see. The organisation is also an employee-owned social enterprise; everyone in the team can opt to be a shareholder and thus have a genuine voice in Smile Together’s future.
James Salmon, Investment Director at Big Issue Invest, said: