Charity funded projects

Makaton training for dental staff to improve patient care

24 December 2021

SCFT's official charity, Sussex Community NHS Charity, raises funds in aid of Trust projects that fall outside the scope of core NHS funding. 

It provides grants which improve the health of patients, staff and volunteers; support staff development; improve equipment and facilities for diagnosis and treatment; create patient and family-friendly care environments; and support medical research. 

In the fifth and final article published this week to highlight examples of the charity's work during the past 12 months, we look at the charity's £2,000 grant to the Trust's Special Care Dental Services to enable staff to be trained in the use of Makaton, a unique language programme that uses symbols, signs and speech to enable people to communicate. 

Dental Nurse Lucy Borthwick, the Project Lead, said the initiative was “directly in response to the additional needs of the majority of our patient base”. 

“We are aware that communication is key in everything that we do,” she explained. “It is no longer acceptable just to ‘muddle through'. 

“We need to be able to communicate at a variety of levels and in ways that the patients are able to understand, and enable them to engage with us in order for them to have success in their healthcare. 

“We believe Makaton, in part, will enable us to do this.” 

Planning began in autumn 2020 and the training started in February this year. 

The aim was to ensure that six staff in key roles received training and could then share it with the rest of the team so everyone had a basic understanding of Makaton. 

Eight workshops covering four levels of training were held by webinar in a suitable room with social distancing in place. 

The six students were given homework and discussed their learning after each class. 

“Projects like this are so vital to making us become a more inclusive and not an exclusive society,” said Lucy. 

“To allow someone the opportunity to communicate their feelings, needs and wants is one of the greatest gifts we can give to each other - to give everyone a chance to have their voice heard and be treated with dignity and respect.” 

If you have an idea for a project at work and would like to find out if our charity can help, contact our friendly team on 01273 266040 or by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.