As practices start to reopen after the Covid-19 lockdown, teams are finding new ‘normals’ and are learning to work in different ways to get practices up and running again. We spoke with Adam, a dental hygienist and therapist, who has had a change of role following lockdown to help his practice get back on track.
What was your experience of ‘lockdown’?
Nothing, mainly sleeping – I found lockdown very difficult. I live a long way from my family, and once my practice decided to stop providing routine treatment the week before the country went into lockdown, I found I had lots of free time. I took the opportunity to do a lot of online CPD, and it was good to have time to do courses I am interested in.
What is your role in the dental team after the Covid-19 lockdown?
I work for several different practices, and one of them was able to open on the 8th June – it was a rush to get ready, but we managed it! The other hygienist and I are both self-employed, and we went back in the role of dental nurses. The employed staff were kept on furlough and brought back in phases. This was a business decision which hopefully has helped the practice.
What was the preparation like for returning to work?
Good and positive. We were all fit-tested with various masks and had lots of meetings to plan how we would work. It was strange seeing people for the first time in so long, especially as it had been such a sudden shutdown.
How have you found returning to work in a different role?
Interesting. It has really helped me appreciate the different roles of the dental team and the difficulties of each one. It has been enjoyable overall, though – and nice to work more closely with other team members.
Now you are beginning to return to work as a hygienist/therapist, what are you finding different in the way you are now working?
I am hand-scaling only, which means treatment is taking longer, so I am mainly now working to 30-minute appointment times, whereas before it was a 50/50 split between 20-minute and 30-minute appointments. Also, even though it's only hand-scaling, I am wearing slightly more PPE than before; wearing aprons and visors – initially it was difficult to find a visor which went over my loupes, but I have got one now.
Do you feel that there are long-term changes that will occur for the dental industry in light of the pandemic?
I think there is potential for local changes to dentistry within teams, but on the whole, no. I think we will eventually fall back into old routines as these have been proven to be cost-effective for practices, and overall we will have a greater appreciation for such incidents, but I don’t believe much will change in terms of dentistry as a whole, sadly.