Dental Ambassadors on COVID-19: Insights From General Practice, Wales

Dental Ambassadors on COVID-19: Insights From General Practice, Wales

Having recently recruited a new network of Dental Ambassadors, we have welcomed five new Ambassadors to our growing team, who will represent their dental community in their geographical area.

Dr Holly Foley, our newly appointed Dental Team Ambassador in Wales, is a keen advocate for lifelong-learning and took on her new role in a bid to promote and support other dental professionals to reach their potential by developing their own career paths and opportunities from the College, to progress their careers and the profession.

Holly, a Dentist, Dental Therapist and practice owner, tells us how the COVID-19 outbreak has affected her practice and what measures her team are taking to adapt to the new challenges. 

How has the COVID-19 outbreak affected your dental practice and patient treatments? 

"The closing of the practice following the government announcement has been a major change of practice ownership. It was understandable but a massive shock and instant change to how patients could be treated in general practice. With no face to face patient contact we have had to change how we communicate with patients rapidly. Triaging patients was our main focus, alongside postponing non-urgent treatment."

How is your dental team adapting and what are the main priorities established to ensure a safe reopening of the practice?

"We have had to swiftly adapt and come together as practice owners in our area. Our local dental committee meetings via Zoom have allowed us all to communicate regularly still and to discuss new guidelines, protocols and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPSs); as and when they are released.  It has been great to talk to other practices to hear their approach. In wales we have observed our England counterparts to see the changes in their practices, as they have been open since the beginning of June. Talking to colleagues has never been more important and it really has shown how even across the nation we can support each other. 

Our main priorities have been caring for patients with pain and dental emergencies. Providing AAA and support has been imperative and when they have needed treatment referring them to our colleagues in the urgent dental care hubs who have had the facilities and appropriate PPE to provide emergency treatment."

What measures is your practice taking to increase standards in care and hygiene?

"We begin to open our doors to patients and prioritising those that require dental emergencies and suffered with pain over lockdown. We have implemented procedures to allow those patients including those that have been shielding the opportunity to attend the practice in a safe environment. Patients are now scrupulously screened and communication prior to entering the surgery has vastly increased to offer them support as they enter their new patient journey.

Similarly to our usual universal standard precautions our approach is that all patients are treated as if they are an asymptomatic Covid-19 patient, with meticulous infection control procedures; consequently we are currently only able to see a handful of patients a day with an hour in between to allow for fallow time and full disinfection.   In addition, this limits the number of people in the practice and maintains social distancing. My practice has opted for a PAPR mask as it is a comfier solution compared with 8 hours wearing an FFP2/3 mask. I now look like a storm trooper from Star Wars and not a friendly dentist to patients, but it is a personal choice and the decision for owners of what PPE suits your practice, providing it follows guidelines.

In the bigger practices we have had to split staff on different rotas to ensure that if one member of the team becomes unwell, the other team would not have to self-isolate and therefore allows for continuity of patient care.

As we are still in the heightened Amber phase of dentistry, being up to date with guidelines, government announcement and policy changes is now more important than ever. We continue to support and now treat our patients who are suffering with dental pain and emergencies and now face future planning for de-escalation and supporting the oral health of our remaining patients in an ever-changing environment and adapting to the new normal.” 

 To learn more about our Dental Ambassadors and their mission visit our Ambassadors page .

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