Back in 1992 Crown Dental Surgery, an NHS and private family practice in Southport, had a mere 400 patients. Today its patient list is nearer 10,000, mostly through word-of-mouth recommendations. So what is the secret of its success? Jackie Dunnings and Debbie Roberts, practice owners talk about their approach.
Our people are the difference
‘We are fortunate to have built up a loyal staff team over the years who pride themselves on being patient-centric, listening and working with patients to help achieve their goals. Alongside our comprehensive range of care and treatment, we spend a lot of time getting to know our patients and educating them in the prevention of caries and periodontal disease.’
This approach is reflected in-surgery, Jackie explains: ‘Together, as a team, we aspire to provide the best treatment we can for each patient and regularly spend time helping them hone their own dental hygiene routines. Hands-on personal tuition is, in our experience, much more likely to help the patient achieve their goals. For those with periodontal disease, the team believe maintenance is the key to prolonged success following all dental treatment and work intensively with each patient, devising and working to implement a personalised and achievable preventive plan.’
A positive experience, from the start
Over the years the practice has developed a reputation for treating families as well as with those who are especially nervous or feel intimidated by the clinical environment. Jackie and Debbie believe this approach has contributed to their success, together with providing a friendly and welcoming environment for their youngest patients. ‘All children are offered oral hygiene instruction and diet advice and have fluoride applied and fissure sealants placed as necessary. We make an enormous effort to ensure the practice is as friendly and unintimidating as possible for children as we understand the anxiety they can suffer. We do our best to make sure the experience is as positive as possible for everyone and closely monitor feedback through quarterly surveys and a comment book to ensure we are doing exactly that.’
Knowledge is power
In conjunction with the highest clinical standards, the level of investment made in the team’s training and qualifications is significant. ‘All our team regularly attend courses to acquire the latest skills and knowledge. Our team of nurses is especially strong and alongside general nursing skills we have encouraged each to pursue their own area of special interest; such as taking radiographs, applying topical fluoride or providing oral health education. Nurses also take on housekeeping roles within the practice taking responsibility for areas such as fire marshalling and infection control. Monthly team meetings and regular staff communications help to ensure everyone is kept up to date.’
Going for gold
In 2004, the practice decided to sign up for the BDA Good Practice Scheme. Their commitment to achieving the highest possible standards has been unstinting year on year and in 2011 the team received the scheme’s Silver Award for their efforts. From an already strong foundation the requirements of the scheme have enabled the team to develop their procedures and ways of working to further raise the standard and quality of service delivered. The team are now working hard to achieve the Gold Award later this year for 10 years participation in the scheme.
Good work between appointments
When it comes to making recommendations to patients, Oral-B products feature prominently. The team is passionate about giving patients the best advice to ensure they can meet their own treatment goals. ‘We actively recommend Oral-B power brushes and regularly turn to the handy recommendation pads to raise patient awareness of the range of brush heads available to suit individual needs. Our own in-house Oral-B Professional 5000 demonstration power brush is invaluable so patients can fine-tune their oral hygiene skills in-surgery using a mouth model, with us alongside to guide them through the routine. We particularly like the timing facility and handle pressure sensor, which helps prevent patients overaggressive brushing. When it comes to toothpaste we are happy to recommend Oral-B Pro-Expert toothpaste with its stabilised stannous fluoride content as it is scientifically proven to be superior to other pastes. We always have toothpaste samples to give away and we believe the use of a good toothpaste, combined with a good toothbrush and first hand brushing instruction helps deliver enormous oral health benefits.’
A reason to smile
Debbie talks enthusiastically about the practice events during National Smile Week earlier this summer: ‘The team gave away balloons, sugar-free lollipops and stickers to patients. We also provided written dietary advice and extra oral hygiene clinics with our therapist and oral hygiene nurse. We were particularly pleased to be invited to Aughton Town Green Primary School, a local junior school in Ormskirk, to give oral hygiene and dietary advice to the children. Our team is always available to go into the community to help where we can. It is just so important to embed good oral hygiene from the earliest age.’