You may well be aware that the chief dental officer for England announced yesterday that face to face dental practice may now resume from 8th June at the earliest.
We were already working hard to prepare for going back to face to face dentistry, however there are ongoing shortages of PPE and fit testing, and we will have to undergo training.
We hope to be open again shortly after this date. Once we can ensure patient and staff safety we will keep you up to date via this blog as to our opening date and how things will work in the short term.
I have given a basic guide below as to how appointments will work following our reopening.
The Elms team
Following our reopening our overriding principle is to maximise the safety of patients and staff. In order to do this, we will minimise patient contact times within the practice. Initially appointments will be limited to dental emergencies and will be prioritised according to the urgency of the problem.
What will be different?
• Your appointment will be booked by telephone. No entry to the practice will be permitted without a pre-booked appointment. You may be asked to prepay for your appointment.
• The receptionist will go through a list of triage questions to assess your general health, update your medical details and assess the nature of your dental problem. This will allow us to assess what treatment is likely to be carried out at your scheduled visit.
• Once an appointment has been booked you will be asked to attend 5 minutes prior to your appointment and press the door-bell.
• Prior to entry your temperature will be measured using our radar (non- contact) thermometer and providing your temperature is normal and you are showing no signs or symptoms of COVID you will be allowed entry.
• If you are displaying signs or have an elevated temperature you will be asked to return home and phone 111 for further advice regarding self isolation.
• On entry you will be asked to carry out hand sanitation and to wear a facemask, which will be provided.
• You will be asked to remove any coats, handbags etc. that will be stored in a clean storage box for the duration of your appointment.
• You will then be invited to the surgery and asked to use hand sanitizer once more.
• The dentist and nurse will be ready for your appointment and may be wearing enhanced PPE such as enhanced masks, face shields etc. which may make us look different from normal. Please don’t be alarmed by this, we are still the same people underneath the PPE !
• The dentist may talk to you prior to asking you to remove your mask and place it in a bag.
• You will be asked to carry out a peroxide mouth rinse for 1 minute prior to your examination
• Once the dentist has examined you and discussed the treatment of your dental emergency the treatment will be carried out in the normal way.
• After your treatment you will be asked to put your mask back on and visit reception if necessary.
• Your coat and any belongings will then be returned to you, prior to leaving the practice.
• As you leave you will be asked to remove your mask, which we will dispose of.
• Before leaving you will then be asked to carry out one final use of hand sanitizer.
How is the practice helping to stop the spread of COVID 19?
During the first phase of returning to face-to-face appointments we are taking rigorous measures to keep you safe. These include:
• Allowing longer appointments
• Only one patient allowed within the practice at a time
• Gaps between appointments to allow for a deep clean and disinfection of all equipment and surfaces, including door handles and payment card machines, door bell etc.
• Practising social distancing wherever possible within the practice.
• Minimising the need to travel by only seeing emergencies that cannot be treated using the ‘3 A’s’ (Analgesia, advice and antibiotics- where appropriate)
• Using enhanced PPE
• Minimising the time patients spend within the practice.
• Installing reception screen
Are these changes permanent?
It is not anticipated that all of the current changes will be permanent and as the knowledge of Coronavirus increases, and potentially vaccines and treatments are developed we expect our processes to change to allow for more comprehensive treatment to be carried out.
Will things ever go back to normal?
We don’t know. It is likely that things will never go back to being exactly the same as they were prior to COVID, however we hope that soon, some of the current restrictions will be relaxed.
How can I prepare for my dental visit?
• Please ensure you have carried out a thorough clean of your teeth prior to your visit.
• Be prepared that your appointment has been booked for treatment to be carried out immediately.
• Please minimise any belongings such as coats and bags you bring in with you
• Please come alone where possible
• Please do not attend more than 5 minutes before your allocated appointment, ensuring also that you are not late. We regret that if you are late for your appointment you will not be seen and will be charged for the appointment.
• Please ensure you have visited the lavatory prior to your visit to minimise the need for using the facilities within the practice. This helps us to reduce risks by minimising foot fall within the practice to only what is essential.