Rachel Dilley, practice and business development manager.

With the current coronavirus pandemic, many businesses are having to adapt their practices and policies to cope with a workload that changes day by day. Here, Practice Manager of award-winning private dental practice, Town Hall Dental, talks us through a day in the life of their practice and how they are overcoming these obstacles.

As a practice, we’ve always been proud of two things; thinking outside the box and caring both for our patients and the community. As an industry, dentistry is one of those most at risk of the COVID-19 virus, and as soon as the scale of the problem became apparent, we had to take steps to ensure the safety of both our patients and our staff.

I lead two practices and my priority was always to keep communicating with my staff and prioritising their wellbeing and safety. Being the key person they look to me for support and has led to some fantastic nicknames, including ‘comfort blanket’ and ‘mummy bear’! This amount of respect and belief in my skills as a leader is something that I cherish. At no time has there been a sense of panic, every new policy has been implemented and carried out to the highest standard giving both team members and patients the reassurance they needed.

We have weekly team updates and I have daily updates with my management team, just like we always did except it is from our homes. It is vital that everyone still feels part of Town Hall Dental, we are a family and miss each other very much

Never has the dental industry, or indeed the world, dealt with anything like this in our lifetimes. There’s no manual to tell you what to do, and as professionals in leadership positions this must be one of the greatest challenges we have faced. All the skills we have learnt over the years have enabled us to protect staff, patients and be able to adapt to a new situation quickly and efficiently.

Our practice is still operating remotely and one of my daily tasks is to ensure that we are triaging patients with essential emergency needs, providing the correct advice and treatment or referring them to a Covid19 Dental Hub. While also checking that they are not showing any symptoms that may cause our staff to become exposed to infection. Three members of our team are now dedicated ‘coronavirus leads’, who liaise both with staff and patients on the policies we have put in place. Recently we have been trialling video check-ups, where potential patients can chat to us about oral health and dentistry issues via tools such as Skype or Zoom. Naturally, there is only so much we can do from a distance, but we can put people’s minds at ease about their oral health, and ensure that they are prioritised correctly for when the practice is open properly again in the (hopefully) near future.

As Manager I am implementing our return to work plan. It is so important that my team have direction on their return, and we can provide the Best Patient Care as always. Our patients have had a very positive response to our regular communication, and it’s just as important for our staff to give them structure and security in these uniquely trying times.

In times like this, we have look outside of dentistry to see what more we can do to help those in need in our community. We have several non-profits who operate from our premises, Focus4Hope, Focus4Success and the Town Hall Foundation. These groups provide community aid for everything from homelessness to oral health care education in schools and have been incredibly busy in the past few weeks. Our charity coordinator and founder of Focus4Hope, Louise Reed, heads up the Town Hall Hub receiving regular donations of food and essential items like toilet roll, which we put together into food parcels and care packs to be delivered where they are needed. At present our priorities are the local elderly, isolated and vulnerable, and we are also delivering these parcels to frontline NHS workers who may not be able to visit the shops. We also have a prescription delivery service available

While we cannot provide everything that we would like to in this time, we’re excited to be open at full capacity again soon providing for the dental needs of people across West Yorkshire and further afield. In the meantime, our goal is to look to the community and help in any way we can. It is the responsibility of everyone and every business in these difficult times to support those less fortunate than ourselves, something we strive to do every day and even more so now.