IPE Salvation Army

A group of dental hygiene and therapy students from Plymouth University has worked with the Salvation Army and its service users at Devonport Lifehouse homeless centre in Plymouth, to create a passport to health that can be used by residents to access services and help maintain control over their health.

It is often difficult for people in this situation to make and keep health care appointments and to access all the health information, advice and support they need.

The students have spent time talking to residents at Devonport Lifehouse to try to really understand the issues they face and what they require to help support a healthier life.

The students also organised a visit to the Devonport Dental Education Facility. This is where Plymouth University dental professions students treat NHS patients under the supervision of qualified dental care professionals, as part of their studies. The visit helped Devonport Lifehouse residents to become accustomed to the dental care environment and gave them the confidence and information needed to make an appointment.

At each session they discussed access to health services, how to obtain and use the information that is available, and how to navigate the complex relationship between health, benefits and finance, housing and other issues in a city where each is in different locations spread around Plymouth.

The result is a useful fold-out ‘passport’ that people can keep on them at all times. They are able to record their personal details, the conditions that affect them and their medication, the name of their GP, dentist and other carers, so that this information can be used by health professionals when required.

The passport also includes contact information and a map for medical, dental, mental health, benefits and finance, housing, nutrition, drug and alcohol support and other general support services.

Lyndsey Withers is a volunteer at Devonport Lifehouse and has worked with Plymouth University Peninsula School of Dentistry and the Peninsula Dental Social Enterprise to deliver this student project.

She said: 

“When the students spoke to our residents it became apparent that they really wanted to take come control over their health, but felt they did not know how to go about doing that and did not have the confidence to take the initiative. By working with our residents the students have created a superb resource which is easy to use and which puts a wide range of useful information in one place.”

She added: 

“I can really see this making a difference to the lives of our residents and others in Plymouth facing similar challenges.”