Dentistry responds – community engagement in COVID-19

COVID-19 volunteersLooking for ways your practice can help during the COVID-19 crisis? Mark Topley looks around to see what the profession has been doing.

Have you been trying to make a difference in your community during COVID-19? Maybe you’ve organised some activities and you’re now wondering what to do next. Perhaps you’ve struggled to know what to do at all?

There’s no doubt that we all have a part to play during the crisis. We can all be ‘helpers’. And as businesses, this is no less of a responsibility. In fact, taking a proactive approach to community engagement through COVID-19 will not only create benefit for our local people, it will also boost your team’s morale and create greater connections with the individuals, groups and organisations that you are a part of.

With the limitations of lockdown, practising dentistry has reduced our ability to help, but it hasn’t eliminated it. In fact, many practices are innovating brilliantly. Many are stepping up support to their partner charities more. Some are doing new things, everyone is playing their part. This post highlights some of the best examples I’ve seen and shared in my CSR Coach Community Facebook Group. At the end, I pose some questions that will help you get started and make a positive difference.


Advocacy is all about speaking up for others and that involves using your communication channels as a way of inspiring and encouraging your community. It’s about posting messages of hope and encouragement on your social media, like Philip Friel Advanced Dentistry in Glasgow. Or pointing people to ways that they can help, like St Michael’s Orthodontics in Wakefield. You could share all important messages about wellbeing and mental health like Moor Park Specialist Dental Care. You can also really help small businesses by sharing their posts and giving them a shout out, like Foregate Dental Clinic in Chester did for one local catering company.


For most of us, lockdown involves being at home, and staying local. But so many fantastic members of the profession are volunteering on the frontline. Like Infinity Blu dentist, Bruce Duguid, who along with many, many others, are going to huge lengths to play their part at the medical frontline.

Many are focusing to help local charities who also find themselves overstretched. Like Town Hall Dental, whose existing partnership with Focus for Hope has gone up several notches. Take a look at their page – it’s an inspiration.

Something that covers both advocacy and volunteering is giving blood. Again, St Michael’s Orthodontics in Wakefield have been sharing how their team are helping, and then using that as a way to encourage others to do the same.


Several practices are giving resources and money to support local causes. In particular, PPE is in short supply for care homes and hospices, and so a number of my clients have donated their stock. Like Tiwari Watson Dental Care in Glasgow and also Town Hall Dental, to name just two. They have also donated food to food banks, and helped to organise collections of food to support the same.

These are just a handful of examples of the outstanding ways that dentistry is responding to COVID-19. There are many, many others. If you were unclear before, you now have some great examples on which to base your response.

Where do you start?

The above will have given you a flavour of what others are doing. I hope it inspires and encourages you to take the next steps in how you can help where you live. But if you need some help getting started, these questions will guide you.

  • What skills do we have? This isn’t just dental skills – things like driving, administration, listening and other basic skills are all useful. Make a list of what you have in your team
  • What resources do we have? Your building is closed for dentistry, but it could be a place for collecting things? Do you have surplus PPE or other resources that others could use
  • Who do we know that needs help? Two things here – the people and organisations you definitely know need help, and the ones that you suspect might need help. Track down the local community hubs that are co-ordinating efforts. Contact the organisations close to you and see what real needs you can meet. Don’t go on a hunch – ask. And don’t reinvent the wheel. Wherever possible, add your weight to what existing organisations (who do this kind of work all the time) are doing.

The drive to make a difference, to do something to help is in all of us. For everyone it will look different. We can’t do everything, but with some consideration, effort and connection, we’ll do what we can, and acting together, that makes all the difference.

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