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Posted by: The Probe 18th September 2021
Skill mix within the dental practice has been a subject of debate for several years now. Especially since direct access was introduced, the potential benefits of better utilising the skills of different team members have been constantly discussed. So too have the challenges faced in changing the way that dental practices are structured in order to adapt the patient care delivered.
As the conversation continues, the Association of Dental Implantology (ADI) will be giving a platform for dental teams to explore the subject relating to dental implant treatment. The ADI Team Congress 2022, entitled “The Great Debate – Current Dilemmas in Dental Implantology”, will feature a dedicated programme for team members, with the opportunity to learn separately and together for greater teamwork and collaboration. Given the significant changes already made throughout dentistry over the past 12 months, could this be the ideal time to make one or two further adjustments that facilitate safe and effective skill mix?
Alison Bullock – Professor of Medical and Dental Education at Cardiff University, School of Social Sciences, and Director of Cardiff Unit for Research and Evaluation in Medical and Dental Education – reflects on possible concerns that still exist regarding use of skill mix for the provision of dental implant care:
“There are inherent risks to patient safety from dental implant treatment and it is a duty of the dental team to optimise patient safety. This safety is the priority for all dental professionals. In many ways, any concerns about the safety of skill mix relate to generic issues about having the right people, who are properly trained, competent and appropriately working to their scope of practice. Mutual respect, trust and good team communication are key features of skill mix working well in practice.”
With the safety of patients and professionals at the very forefront of everyone’s minds right now, Alison discusses potential motivations for better utilising skill mix and overcoming some of the challenges:
“In very recent times, if we’re thinking about COVID-19, then infection control measures have been highlighted – particularly for invasive procedures. This has probably heightened the importance of teamwork. The other thing to note is the financial implications arising from the pandemic with periods of practice closure and reduced capacity to see patients safely. Longer-term, this makes the business case for good skill mix even more important.
“A central aspect of skill mix is about getting the mix ‘right’ so that staff are able to use their skills. Education and leadership are key, and there is more work to be done on the career structure for DCPs in the long-run. We are already seeing greater focus on prevention and self-care, and funding models that support and assist skill mix for businesses. Overcoming skill mix challenges should bring benefits for individual staff members, the team and patient care.”
Alison will be presenting at the ADI Team Congress 2022 as part of the highly anticipated Team Programme. This will be a joint session that combines the programme for dental hygienists and dental therapists, with that for dental nurses and practice managers. Alison shares what she will be exploring during her session:
“I will explore the expected roles of members of the dental implantology team in terms of patient selection, treatment planning, treatment, post-treatment and the management of peri-implant diseases and conditions. I will review the changing evidence for the best practice in dental implantology and the need to keep up-to-date, as well as the value of bringing the whole team together for learning events.
“My work with others on the development of a tool to support dental practice team development and their review of skill-mix – the Skills Optimiser Self-Evaluation Tool (SOSET) – will also be described. Research findings on the adequacy of training will be reported, mindful that dental teams in the general dental service who do not provide dental implant treatment almost certainly still care for patients with dental implants. I will also present findings from studies on teamwork with other professional groups, including from pharmacy and the airline industry.
“I hope that delegates take away the notion that safe skill mix requires team members who are competent in their scope of practice and who keep up-to-date with changing evidence of best practice. Teamworking is supported by good leadership and effective communication and we can learn from other professions. When skill mix works well, both job satisfaction and patient care is enhanced.”
To ensure you don’t miss what looks set to be a truly thought-provoking and stimulating session, book your place for the ADI Team Congress 2022 online today!
ADI Team Congress 2022
“The Great Debate”
26-28 May 2022, Manchester Central
ADI members will be able to attend the ADI Team Congress for discounted rates. Join today.
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