World Alzheimer’s Day – is your dental practice dementia-friendly?

World Alzheimer's Day – is your dental practice dementia-friendly?Today marks World Alzheimer’s Day – and for the first time ever, a guide has been put together to promote dementia-friendly dentistry.  

The advice contains ideas, tips and explanations on how all members of the dental team can make the practice more accommodating for those with dementia.

For example:

  • Offer familiarisation visits to the practice prior to appointments to help alleviate anxiety
  • Regular dementia workshops or training with all staff
  • Avoid shiny flooring, as those with dementia can confuse this with water. Similarly they can interpret dark carpets as black holes
  • Engage with patients with dementia, as well as their carers. Ask for feedback on how to make their appointments easier.

‘Incredibly proud’

Written by Peninsula Dental Social Enterprise and Plymouth City Council, the dementia-friendly guide was born following work within the student curriculum.

Students worked alongside Ian Sheriff, the university’s academic partnership lead for dementia on their module – and were inspired to design a dementia-friendly surgery.

The concepts encouraged a dental surgery designer to rethink their designs. With this in mind, a full guide was commissioned earlier this year and is available to dentists via NHS England.

Professor Christopher Tredwin is head of Peninsula Dental School at the University of Plymouth. He said: ‘As a practising dentist myself, I know that dentists see people over and over again and also see how they develop over the years.

‘We are in a key position to spot a change in someone’s behaviour or demeanour. If we consider that it might be dementia, look at how we can help. Whether that’s signposting to other care and/or changing our own practices, it’s important we’re as prepared as we can be. That’s where this guidance comes in.

‘I’m incredibly proud of the university’s community engagement work alongside Peninsula Dental Social Enterprise. What our students have helped to achieve is fantastic.’

Compassionate

Sara Hurley, chief dental officer for England, praised the guide for its approach. ‘Dementia is a significant health and social care challenge faced by our society,’ she said.

‘This challenge cannot be ignored. It can only be tackled through new approaches and understanding that draw on all parts of health, social care and the wider aspects of community life.

‘All those who work in the field of dentistry are likely to be affected by dementia either in the patients we treat, as ourselves or as carers for loved ones.

‘To ensure people living with dementia receive the dental care they require this dementia friendly guide provides a valuable insight into providing compassionate dental care. Also the special considerations needed to help people living with dementia to access dental services.’

The guide can be read in full here.


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