Tauranga woman Trudy Hulena walked out of her dental appointment and cried.
Moments earlier, she had two fillings fixed by Dr Chris Brooks and a professional clean by Hygienist Candice Taylor at Lumino The Dentists City Dental on the Park.
But it wasn’t pain or discomfort that caused Trudy’s tears. She felt humbled, she felt looked after, and she says she felt “blessed beyond words that she was taken care of.”
It was May 6th 2017 and it was Lumino Day. Trudy was one of the 417 patients treated that day for free, by Lumino The Dentists clinicians across New Zealand.
Lumino Day is a day set aside for the organisation give back to local communities and to provide an opportunity for those who often, if not always, put their needs behind the others they care for.
Last year saw Lumino the Dentists partner with Carers NZ, the national body which provides information, advice, learning and support to family carers around the country, for the first time.
Now in its 5th year, Lumino The Dentists are once again partnering with Carers NZ.
Trudy says she thought when she was going into the appointment, that she only needed a professional clean, but was stunned to find the dentist would fix her broken fillings.
“I was so fortunate to go in thinking I only needed a clean, and yet I had two treatments for one leaking filling (who knew!) and one that had fallen out,” she says.
“I loved the total package. The care, the caring, the kindness and the amazing gift that I was given, along with other carers throughout New Zealand of course.”
Reflecting back on the day in May last year, Trudy says it was an overwhelming but special day.
“I just kept on looking at my beautiful clean and repaired teeth and smile,” she says.
“I was so humbled and I appreciated the amazing gesture along with the amazingness of how much money was spent on me, individually, and also with us all collectively, no mean feat, and also so unheard of today as well.”
Practice Manager at Tauranga’s Lumino City dental says she remembers Trudy, and how she had brought home-baking in for the staff.
“She was absolutely lovely and so very grateful for everything we were doing for her and for all of the carers.”
“It really was a wonderful experience for our team and we are all very eager to do it all again this year,” she adds.
“The roads are hard, but our children need us”
Trudy takes care of her two grandsons. Ben aged almost 9 and Jamie, 5. Both boys have autistic traits, ADHD and other language and behaviour disorders.
Trudy says unfortunately their mother and father are unable to look after them, so she started being their sole caregiver when Ben was 7 months old and Jamie 18 months old.
“It’s hard and it’s sad, it is what it is,” she says. “So to go to the dentist is a luxury.”
She admits time for herself is few and far between and recalls how when she was in the workforce, she would be entitled to four weeks holiday per year, but since she has taken up the care for her grandchildren, she doesn’t get time to look after herself. Trudy says it took four years for her to be “brave enough” to give herself a short holiday.
However, she says she would not have it any other way.
“Looking back, there’s no way I would change anything,” she says. “The roads are hard…but it’s worth it. It’s so rewarding to see a child who has come from being totally vacant to a little boy who is happy and interacting.”
Infact, Trudy says she’d do it again and again. “I’d take other people’s children too…our children need us.”
About Lumino Day
Lumino Day is one of the largest free dental events in New Zealand. Now in its fifth year, the company is partnering with Carers NZ once more.
In 2017, Lumino The Dentists provided over $165,000 of free dental treatment to over 400 family carers nationwide.
More than 150 dentists, hygienists and support staff from 30 Lumino the Dentists dental practices across New Zealand, gave up their time on Saturday 6 May 2017, to support their local communities.
This year, May 5th has been set aside for Lumino Day. If you’re a family carer and want to become a member of Carers NZ click here. Carers NZ will also notify their members when the expression of interest opens.