We were thrilled to see our Decon Team of just 5 technicians recognised as finalists in the ‘Practice Decontamination Award’ at the 23rd annual Dental Awards ceremony on Friday 28th May 2021 hosted virtually by BBC weather presenter and meteorologist Sarah Keith-Lucas.

They now operate dedicated decontamination facilities in Truro and Bodmin on behalf of our teams working in all 8 Smile Together locations across Cornwall. Prior to the pandemic we outsourced some of our decon requirements but the team proactively suggested decontaminating instruments from all our locations, thus keeping everything in line with our own infection control and operating procedures and saving £3,000 per month whilst themselves taking on more work. Given that we treat c.35,000 patients each year this meant 107,139 items of dental equipment were decontaminated by our team in the last year!

As a consequence of Covid-19 the team necessarily had to transition to a dual decon/courier role, the daily courier element a brand new service within Smile Together. Not only did all 5 team members readily accommodate this significant change to their roles but in fact they helped to shape how the service would most efficiently run.

In the last year their willingness to help alongside delivering the highest standards of decontamination enabled us to temporarily extend the scope of our service to support Plymouth University Peninsula School of Medicine and Dentistry’s Peninsula Dental Social Enterprise with their decontamination requirements.

Our team of Decon Technicians have absolutely no hesitation in accommodating anything extra they are asked to do, genuinely happy to be busy. This has included:

  • Supporting clinical colleagues by managing the new in-house laundry facility, negating the need for anyone to take their uniforms home and essentially enabling us to further enhance the safety measures put in place to protect our teams during Covid-19
  • Making other deliveries/collections whilst on their courier run to support colleagues across the business
  • Stepping into facilities management when those colleagues have been unable to come to work (e.g. whilst shielding) or committed elsewhere – again helping to maintain the safety of colleagues and patients by ensuring that essential building checks are completed
  • Driving our Smiles at Sea mobile dental unit and manoeuvring it into some tight harbourside locations in readiness to treat fishermen who rarely see a dentist due to the demands of their work – see https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-england-cornwall-49972117
  • Helping with deliveries, most recently of a 20’ container (!), delicately directing big vehicles in our car park and then physically moving and loading oral health items into the container for storage through to selecting and delivering those items to our teams as required for donating to their local Foodbanks, homelessness or other charities
  • Not only designed a post storage system for their Smile Together van but actually built it themselves from the materials we supplied! A fantastic and very real cost saving compared to buying one

In 2017 our team were runners-up in the Schülke UK Infection Prevention & Control Awards and reflecting the views of colleagues, Commercial and Operations Manager Vikki Johnson says: “Quite simply our decontamination team are absolute treasures! They do an amazing job, are always willing, flexible and happy to help with anything asked of them – we’ve always valued their contribution but in these challenging CV times their diligence and thoughtfulness has been truly exceptional. They display our company values of being bold, generous, authentic and inspirational on a daily basis and are so deserving of this recognition”.

We were also thrilled to see Katie Rowe crowned Dental Nurse of the Year 2021 in the Dental Awards and to be a finalist in the much coveted ‘Dental Practice of the Year’ – a great hat trick of recognition!

 

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