No two days have been the same over the last year, with dental practices having to adapt quickly to change after change.
As we start to see a light at the end of the lockdown tunnel, many in the profession are now looking back and reflecting on the difficulties they faced during the height of the pandemic, and what lessons they can learn to help in the future.
Practice Plan’s Regional Support Manager, Josie Hutchings, recently caught up with Practice Director of Synergy Dental Clinic, Lesley Morgan-Barlow to discuss the changing face of dentistry during the pandemic, the pace of change practices had to deal with and what lessons she and her colleagues are learning for the future…
JH: Hi Lesley, the last 12 months have thrown up some real challenges. What has been the most difficult thing you’ve had to deal with?
LM-B: The difficulties we faced in the industry were huge and I think the toughest thing we’ve had to deal with has been just the number of changes and how quickly things were moving from day to day.
We had to adapt to deal with things like PPE changes, rule changes and restrictions on patients. But, like I’ve said, the pace of it was the most difficult element. There were so many times when we’d plan for something one day, and the next day that plan would be in the bin because the rules had completely changed.
JH: How did you deal with this?
LM-B: Within the practice we just had to accept that we needed to be flexible, adapt and be quick on our feet, because we just didn’t know what would be coming around the corner.
That sounds vague, and it seems like an easy thing to say, but that’s all we could do, just expect that changes may be coming and try and deal with them as best as we could. Even now, although things are better, we haven’t reached that ‘new normal’ just yet, and there may still be changes coming down the line.
JH: How have you helped your staff deal with such changes over the past year?
LM-B: When everything is changing at such a pace it’s sometimes quite difficult to find the time to communicate with your staff. However, allocating that time in the week or in the day to explain the changing situations made things a lot easier for us.
Communication is key, so we used that time to talk with staff and explain the new Government guidelines or NHS changes, how they were going to directly impact us and what we would have to do moving forward. That made sure that despite the distressing times we were in, everyone was on the same page.
JH: The industry has been able to learn a lot over the last year. As a practice, have you learned anything during the pandemic that you will take forward into the future?
LM-B: After what has gone on over the last year, I think the main thing we’ve learned is how important it is to embrace change, because nothing is ever going to go back to the way it was before.
It is fair to say there has been a lot of negative changes over the last year that have hindered the ability to go about our daily business, but, I’d say, we’ve enjoyed positive ones as well.
We’ve been able to have a bit more control over appointments because of the Covid related restrictions that are in place. It has meant we have specific slots, and we know well in advance what patients we are seeing and when, so it has given us a bit more control over our schedule.
JH: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us Lesley, it’s really appreciated.
Lesley is the joint owner and business director at Synergy Dental Clinic.
Josie has been a Regional Support Manager at Practice Plan for 20 years and has 25 years’ experience in the dental industry. Practice Plan is the UK’s leading provider of practice-branded patient membership plans, partnering with over 1,500 dental practices and offering a wide range of business support services.