How do you know if your dental practice is safe?

09 December, 2019 / editorial

The Safety Climate Survey has been made available to every dental team in Scotland

We all know that safety is of utmost importance to everyone. It’s what keeps us awake at night if we feel we may have harmed our patients. You may think your current practice is safe, but that’s not the same as knowing it is safe.

By completing the Safety Climate Survey, you will find out more about the safety culture within your dental practice and how you can make any improvements. Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) is committed to supporting patient safety throughout all healthcare settings. It has led and delivered the unique national initiative Scottish Patient Safety Programme since 2008. HIS has worked across a wide range of healthcare settings to support patient safety in primary care to make care safer across all areas of health and social care, including dentistry. In 2017 the Safety Climate Survey was piloted in 14 dental practices in three NHS boards, and now, working in partnership with NHS Education for Scotland, it has been made available to every dental team in Scotland.

HIS is working closely in collaboration with the Chief Dental Officer to support quality improvement activity in General Dental Services with the implementation of the Safety Climate Survey in dentistry, as the first phase of the QI activity in the current three-year quality improvement cycle. Completing the Safety Climate Survey and developing an action plan for improvement meets the criteria for your allocated QI hours and allowance for year one of the three-year improvement cycle. HIS will also be working with the Chief Dental Officer to consider other mechanisms to support QI in dentistry in the second phase of the quality improvement cycle. If you haven’t heard of the Safety Climate Survey yet, Healthcare Improvement Scotland’s Clinical Lead for Dentistry, Irene Black, shares her experience as she has previously completed the survey about her own dental practice.

What is the Safety Climate Survey?

The Safety Climate Survey is a tool that enables practices to consider a snapshot of the safety culture in their practice and to better understand the impact on safety in their practice. It has been developed specifically for general dental services and public dental services.

Can I do the survey now?

Yes! The Safety Climate Survey opened on 1 August 2019 and is due to close on 31 March 2020. But don’t leave it till the last minute, as every member of your dental practice should take part and you will need to allow them time to complete the survey before it closes.

Why should I complete the survey?

Completing it will help your dental practice have a conversation about the domains within the survey, how this might impact on safety and identify where you can make improvements. When all staff members have completed it, you can download your report from the website. Remember it contributes towards your QI hours and allowance for this year too.

What do we do with the report?

In my practice, we followed the guidance developed by Healthcare Improvement Scotland and held a team meeting to discuss the results. This allowed us to talk about making positive changes to improve the safety culture and in turn improve the service we deliver.

Who sees the answers?

Don’t worry, all answers are anonymised, and the individual report is not seen by anyone else out with your team.

Irene Black
Irene Black, Clinical Lead for Dentistry, HIS

What next?

After the meeting you should create an action plan, highlighting three things you do well and three areas for improvement. There is a template available from HIS which will guide you in this process. Your completed plan should be uploaded to the NHS Education for Scotland Portal. Irene added: “Undertaking the survey may seem daunting, but it only takes 15 minutes and I found it to be a valuable exercise. It enabled us to learn more about the dynamics of our team and it provided the opportunity to discuss and share different perspectives.”

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Tags: Practice / Practice ma / safety / Safety Climate / survey

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