As we all return to practice with our staff and our patients, it is important to recognise that Change, in fact, any Change, no matter how small or big, for most people, is generally very difficult as we are creatures of habit.
The most significant Change for all of us is managing our dentistry with Covid-19 and the associated new clinical protocols (which are evolving and changing regularly). Add to this concoction the fact that we are receiving many and varied media and social media reports about management of dentistry with Covid-19. And it all becomes a lot to take in.
The Standard Operating Procedures from OCDO that were issued on June 4th are the national benchmark and the minimum expectation for safe practice, and the standards expected by the regulators. They also take into account guidance issued by the FGDP on 1st June and the update issued on 16th June. The GDC is clear that if a registrant deviates from established practice and guidance, they should record the reasons why and be able to justify their decision. It is therefore vital that your Protocols are read and observed, and that all team members are working from the most recent version.
There has already been significant communication about the protocols with many questions arising.
Fear of the Unknown
In many cases, the extended dental team, when coming back to work, may be anxious, may need more information and have unanswered questions. Dentists will now be required to step up their Leadership game, regardless of the size of practice (be that of a whole practice or a single surgery room) and it is up to each of us to positively manage and support this significant Change for our staff and patients.
It would be unrealistic to expect clinical staff, non-clinical staff and patients to carry on as they were Pre- COVID-19.
A major consideration in the management of staff and patients when returning to work is to appreciate and be sympathetic to how they may be feeling. If the staff are well prepared and well informed, they are more likely to feel confident that they are protected, which is likely to reduce anxiety and fear.
You can help your Team by ensuring:
- The entire team fully understands and has been trained to follow the protocols diligently to create a safe environment for all.
- The difference between low-risk AGE and high-risk AGE and what PPE should be worn for each is understood.
- How the risks related to a high-risk AGE can be mitigated by the use of high volume suction and rubber dam, etc.
- Giving the team the opportunity to collaborate on the risk assessment, clinical judgement and justification for each patient.
- All team member should feel confident about raising a concern and feel confident they will be listened to.
- Ensuring no team member feels pressured to continue in any aspect of the role they are not comfortable with to promote and create a more relaxed atmosphere for patients.
“We believe it would be in everyone’s interest to ensure regular communication occurs within all practice teams to help reduce anxiety, create a safe and supportive atmosphere and promote a relaxed environment.”
How to ensure regular communication to increase team confidence:
- Have an initial practice meeting to discuss the issues noted above.
- Discussion of the risk assessment, clinical judgement and justification in the morning meeting before seeing any patient every day.
- Weekly team meetings to discuss and review the Practice Protocols.
- Weekly one to one meetings with each team member, allowing them to raise any issues of wellness and anxiety.
As the principal dentist, you need to show support for those you are responsible for during this rapidly evolving period as we return back to work.
Managing Change in uncertain times is a Leadership role and requires considerable sensitivity if it is to gain momentum and sustain confidence. This requires clear and unambiguous communication, which may take time but will be considerably beneficial in the long run.
A well informed and trained team will support your business with proper coordination and informational support for your patients. This, in turn, will help your patients to continue doing business with you.