Increasing Access to Care for Vulnerable Patients

Confession. I once went 13 years between dentist visits. The dentist told me my teeth were fine and I should carry on doing whatever I'd been doing. Nine years later I decided I ought not wait 13 years this time. I've been back every six months since.

What took me so long? Fear. Despite being a sensible, rational person with sound understanding of scientific principles, I feared dental examination. In hindsight what I actually feared was the horribly sadistic (at least in my mind) dentist of my youth. The brain, marvelous thing that it is, often ignores actual risk and potential outcomes in preference for an imagined bogeyman. Sometimes, though, fear is driven by lack of understanding.

Going back to my dentist, imagine having that visit but lacking cognitive ability to think beyond the whirring drill to the improved oral health that awaits. In many cases special care dentistry teams may need to use a general anaesthetic in order to carry out often routine procedures. This does not necessarily lead to improved clinical outcomes and introduces an element of unnecessary risk.

Dentistry.jpgThrough our UK merger with Positive Options we devised a training programme, CH-3SM Skills for Clinical Holding, which gives staff the knowledge to address issues of risk and skills to hold patients safely whilst procedures are performed. We've already worked with special care dentistry teams as well as care homes and hospitals to help staff perform necessary treatments that improve the quality of life for those they support. In addition, it’s a useful way of improving access to essential services for those who lack capacity.

At the end of this week I will be hosting a CPI stand at the Dentistry Show 2013. I will stand proud in a conference hall with thousands of dentists and I'll be telling them how we can help them improve access and provide a better service whilst dealing with the fear and anxiety of their vulnerable patients, and I'll smile a rueful smile of remembrance.  

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