Upon reopening your dental practice, being in close proximity to others can be stressful for both patients and staff. The first few times that patients will interact with your business can be filled with anxiety - there is still so much uncertainty around the COVID-19 virus. As we settle into our new normal and navigate how to safely and effectively care for our patients, it is more important than ever to create a calm and relaxing environment in our practices.
As you begin to reopen your practice, you may be focused on meeting your operating requirements, hiring staff, and purchasing enough PPE for your team. However, to provide the best experience possible, you should also be looking at the softer side of your practice, and review how you can create a peaceful environment to ease anxiety and focus on patient care.
Below, we’ve outlined a few simple ways you can create a safe, caring environment that goes beyond protection, and supports a peaceful environment for everyone!
Proactively communicating with patients ahead of their arrival, clear signage and guidance once they are in your office reminds patients that you are working to keep them safe thus helping them breathe a sigh of relief. By respecting personal space as much as possible, having sufficient protective gear for everyone, and limiting the number of people in your office, your patients can rest easy that you have already created the first line of defence in their safety and protection against infection.
Create a Relaxing Environment
While you may normally have TV’s running or magazines in your waiting area, these may now cause more worry for patients than they used to! Most news is focused on the virus, and magazines can be looked at suspiciously as there isn’t as much understanding on how COVID lives on surfaces. Instead of these usual go-to’s, reflect on how you can make your office more relaxing for patients while they are in your care. Choosing relaxing, spa-like music may be a good first step, and hanging beautiful photos or paintings on the walls can help create a more serene ambiance.
Coach Your Staff
While usual patient-staff chit chat would include conversations of new and exciting activities, life milestones, or even just a casual ‘how’s it going?’, it is worthwhile to talk with your staff and provide suggestions for topics of conversation if necessary. Keeping the conversation light and positive can help your patients and staff momentarily focus on a topic other than the pandemic, which is a welcomed relief for many! If your staff or patients are expressing anxiety or fear over the current state of the world, provide suggestions to redirect the conversation to something more pleasant, or limit conversation in general. Have staff encourage patients to use this as a time of rest and suggest having patients bring their own headphones and music that will allow them to be entertained while your hygienists care for them, limiting conversation in general.
Just because this can be an anxious and uncertain time doesn’t mean that your practice can’t be a calm in the storm. By focusing on truly caring for your patients and addressing any anxieties that they or your staff may be experiencing, creating a peaceful environment will go a long way in easing the transition back to your full operations. We hope this list provides some actionable ideas and inspiration that you can bring to your practice!