Our survey revealed that returning to work after the shut down last year resulted in over half of staff members feeling highly concerned for their personal safety. However, less than half of patients felt highly concerned returning to their dental appointments. Dentists and practice owners needed to make the necessary changes to how they ran their practice in order to increase feelings of safety for their patients and, especially, their staff. Approximately four months later, staff concerns went down by 34 per cent and patient concern decreased by 19 per cent. So, what did dentists across Canada do to increase feelings of safety in their team and patient base to keep their staff showing up to work and patients booking appointments? How do we continue to decrease the levels of concern as the pandemic rages on?
Enhanced PPE: Over ½ of dentists say they implemented enhanced PPE in their practice. While this has been costly for many practices and, often, time consuming, clearly these measures have paid off. This is a change that patients can see when they visit the office, which will help them feel more at ease knowing you are adding more protection for their sake (and your own).
Abiding by regulations: By following the protocols that have been put in place by the colleges, you are helping your staff feel confident at their place of work and safe enough to return to their families in the evenings. If you are cutting corners or ignoring the regulations, you are opening yourself up to a number of issues with staff and patients that you really want to avoid right now.
Keeping staff up to date: This tactic is simple, although it seems to be a major adjustment many needed to make, according to our survey results. Simply, keep your staff informed. By providing thorough communication throughout your office, it allows everyone to feel included and updated on the latest information. Conduct group meetings or “morning huddles” every day so all team members know what to expect going into a busy day and what changes have been made due to any updated restrictions, etc.
Controlling traffic flow: This is an example of why you need to have excellent communication right now between staff members. To keep all patients socially distanced, you need to have great traffic flow as patients move throughout the practice. Team members need to be aware of where other patients are and when they are moving so there are no unnecessary run ins with other patients.
Added disinfection: By increasing your sterilization procedures, you are helping patients and staff feel safer during appointments, along with decreasing the chance of the virus spreading. As the ones disinfecting the operatories, staff can feel confident they are taking their safety into their own hands. Seeing the extra steps being taken will also help increase patients’ confidence as well.
As seen in the print issue of Oral Health May 2021