How I did it – The Old Church Dental Practice

The Old Church Dental PracticeThe Old Church Dental Practice is quite unlike any other, as practice manager Jayne Elfleet-Radford attests.

Nestled in the picturesque village of Lightcliffe, just three miles outside of Halifax in West Yorkshire, sits a beautiful grade-I listed church building that houses The Old Church Dental Practice. A stunning and unusual space, one cannot help thinking its team as well as the 5,000-plus patients they serve must feel somewhat blessed to experience dentistry in such a heavenly setting.

In contrast to the historical architecture, a cutting-edge and stunning, ultra-modern dental and implant clinic lies behind its doors.

The Old Church Dental Practice offers private general dentistry. As well as a range of cosmetic treatments. With an in-house specialist restorative team and capacity to accept referrals.

Acquired by Bupa Dental Care in 2018 from dentist and serial entrepreneur Prem-Pal Sehmi, of Boutique Whitening, Quick Straight Teeth and BDS Laboratories fame, this aesthetically pleasing dental setting appropriately underpins the essence of one simple principle: that first impressions count.

The design of the practice (which has been described as ‘probably among the top five most beautiful dental practices in the country’) truly makes the most of its ecclesiastical interior. The bright and airy space and large rooms are complemented by great lighting and clean lines. They work together to accentuate the original church architecture. 

As practice manager, Jayne Elfleet-Radford, acknowledges: ‘The practice definitely has the “wow” factor. One of the first things new patients comment on is usually its appearance. Before they’re even in the chair, they’re getting an impression of us, the practice and the brand. And we want the start of their experience with us to be a good one. One that is professional, welcoming and calming. 

‘The design makes the most of the church’s original features. The waiting area is located next to the beautiful stained-glass window. It gives patients something to focus on and helps calm nerves ahead of their appointment. There’s little clutter, and we have soft furnishings that do away with the clinical feel. It creates a space that is both comfortable and homely.’

Dental anxiety

Dental anxiety is one of the most common reasons people avoid visiting a dentist. The traditional sights, sounds and smells of a dental practice can help trigger those fears.

It is for this reason perhaps why this special practice has such patient appeal. Situated as it is in a sanctuary of peace and tranquillity. 

As Jayne comments: ‘It’s always important to think about the environment. Our more anxious patients appreciate the calm and relaxed ambience here.’

The success of the design is also a lot to do with how it blends old with new and lies in the creative mix of these contrasting elements. Moving through the practice, there are hints of the original church features here and there, such as exposed original stone brickwork and wooden beams. With some of the original church fixtures and fittings still in situ. 

But these are complemented by some modern twists. The Belmont chairs, for example, that are in surgeries throughout the practice that, says Jayne: ‘Not only look great, but are easy to use. And comfortable for patients and very much a part of the overall relaxed surroundings’. 

So, while remaining sympathetic to the original church features, it also has everything you’d expect to find in any modern, state-of-the-art dental practice that aims to deliver high-end dentistry.

Stained-glass window

But the stand-out feature is its towering stained-glass window. Magnificent in both scale and detail. The dominating window is visible from the patient waiting area and is the main feature of one of the surgeries. 

Jayne says: ‘It is like a piece of dynamic art, projecting different light into the practice depending on the time of day or weather conditions. We are very fortunate to practise in such a unique and beautiful environment.’

At the time of the sale, practice owner Prem-Pal Sehmi reflected on his own experience of purchasing this special dental practice, recalling: ‘We realised at the time that we would only ever be custodians of such a prestigious building’.

Indeed, this gift has now been passed on and Bupa is delighted to be a part of its history. Building on that which has gone before – remaining sympathetic in respect of the setting and dynamic in terms of the dentistry it delivers.

For those who practise here, as well for those who attend, it must feel a privilege to spend time in such a stunning building that has certainly made its mark within the dental landscape.

And, as for Bupa, it’s surely a heaven-sent opportunity to raise the bar in how modern-day dentistry is delivered in such a peaceful and awe-inspiring space.

Jayne’s top design tips

  1. Make the most of the features you have. Not everyone will have grade-I listed features to work with. But think about any defining characteristics you can incorporate into your practice design to create a point of interest or to highlight a piece of history
  2. Minimise the clutter. Be thoughtful about what you include in your public areas. Everything should have a purpose. 
  3. Think about your nervous patients. What can you do to help people feel more at ease inside your practice? Using soft furnishings, playing calming music, regulating the temperature and choosing comfortable dental chairs all help to make a difference
  4. Maximise the space. Think about clever ways to maximise the areas available, as well as the mood you want to set. For example, at Old Church, we have built two unique rooms at the top of the practice that are elevated from our other surgeries. These are for implant patients and have their own waiting areas, creating an exclusive feel
  5. Embrace good lighting. Think about how you can exploit the use of natural lighting where possible. Avoid bright, white lights in waiting areas and consider how strategically placed warmer lighting can help put people at ease.

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