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"Balancing Act: Nurturing Wellbeing in Dental Practice"

Updated: Apr 10

Women thinking about the day to day life

In the ever-evolving landscape of dental healthcare, the significance of the wellbeing of dental professionals cannot be understated. Recent political announcements and ongoing challenges within the sector have sparked conversations and initiatives aimed at improving the overall health and welfare of those in the field. In this article, we delve into the current state of wellbeing among dental professionals, the potential implications of recent political commitments, and how we can collectively pave the way for a brighter future in dentistry.

Labour's Commitment to Dental Reform

The end of the political party conference season in October brought with it a renewed focus on the health of our nation. Among the policy discussions, there was a notable spotlight on dentistry, as Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer unveiled a commitment to reform the dental contract. This commitment, which has garnered attention and applause, proposes several key changes.

First and foremost, it addresses the pressing issue of access to dental care. The proposal involves funding additional NHS dental appointments, potentially alleviating the burden on dental practices and ensuring that patients can receive timely treatment. Moreover, the plan seeks to introduce supervised toothbrushing programs in schools, emphasizing the importance of oral health education from an early age. This preventive approach could prove instrumental in reducing the need for more extensive dental treatments in the long run.

However, the devil is in the details, and many specifics of these new plans are yet to be unveiled. Until the finer points are revealed, it remains challenging to provide a comprehensive assessment of their potential impact.

The Government's Stance and the Call for Fair Reward

In contrast to Labour's proactive approach, the present government's response to the dental crisis has been less detailed. Their commitments primarily revolve around increasing the dental workforce as part of the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan. While this is undoubtedly a step in the right direction, it raises questions about addressing the intricacies of dental practice.

The Crucial Role of Wellbeing

The findings are telling. Despite an increase in health and wellbeing strategies implemented by employers, the rate of absence is currently at an all-time high. This alarming trend echoes the challenges experienced within the dental profession. Recruitment and retention of dental staff, much like in other sectors, pose significant challenges. It is clear that we can draw valuable insights from other industries that are actively working to create healthier workforces.

Tailoring Wellbeing Initiatives for Smaller Practices

For dental practices, especially small businesses, setting up health and wellbeing initiatives can be more challenging due to limited budgets and resources. The absence of dedicated teams for this purpose adds another layer of complexity. However, it's essential to remember that our people are our greatest assets, and their wellbeing directly impacts the success of our practices.

Recruitment and retention of staff are pivotal in maintaining a thriving dental practice. This year, the report highlights a concerning increase in average sick days, which has risen from 5.8 per employee per year in 2019 to 7.8 this year. Given the nature of dental work, where chaperones and support are often necessary, this upward trend in staff absences is a significant concern. Many of you in the field have undoubtedly encountered this challenge in recent years.

Focusing on Mental Health and More

Within the realm of wellbeing initiatives, mental health remains a primary focus for employers. Recognizing the stresses and demands of the profession, it's imperative to create a supportive environment for dental professionals. However, it's not just about mental health; it's about the holistic wellbeing of the dental team.

Efforts should extend to encompass the values and principles of a dental practice, its collective and social responsibility, work-life balance, physical health, and personal growth. These aspects are profoundly relevant to the success and overall satisfaction of dental teams.

Addressing Managerial Challenges

One of the key challenges highlighted in the report pertains to the lack of manager skills and confidence in supporting wellbeing. This is a crucial issue that demands our attention. As leaders in the field, it is our responsibility to ensure that we and other relevant staff develop the necessary skills, confidence, and resources to effectively support our teams. Building trust within the team is equally vital.

The report underscores the significance of leaders prioritizing wellbeing and setting an example for others to follow. Additionally, it is important to acknowledge that different employees may require varying levels and types of support throughout their practice lifecycle. Embracing a flexible approach to wellbeing is essential, as there is no one-size-fits-all solution.

A Collective Effort for a Brighter Future

In conclusion, the health and well-being of dental teams are central to the success and sustainability of the profession. To make meaningful progress, we must consider the broader employment landscape and reflect on how we can enhance the support we offer to our teams. Collaboration, innovation, and a commitment to well-being PKPI Accountants will shape the future of dentistry.


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