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Dental teams lead the way in spotting the signs of domestic abuse

At Glow, we’re committed to education and prevention to end domestic abuse. That’s why we’re training dental teams to spot the signs and offer support.

On average, 75% of domestic abuse injuries affect the head and neck, areas which dentists check during routine appointments. This means that dental teams are perfectly placed to spot the signs of abuse. We’re supporting staff to recognise these signs, ‘ask the question’ if they are worried about a patient and safely respond to patient and staff disclosures.

All our training is delivered by specialist Glow staff, who have knowledge and experience of working with victims and perpetrators of domestic abuse.

The training has been developed in partnership with dental professionals and specialists to make sure we are providing training that is tailored for them.

Team Leader Hayley Ferns explains how the training started and why it’s so important.

She said: “In 2017 we delivered The Primary Health Care project, which focused on improving both general practice and dentistry’s response to domestic abuse.

“The project included domestic abuse awareness training for practice staff, follow-up support and advice, as well as a dedicated referral pathway into local domestic abuse support services.

“The Primary Health Care project ran for nine months and we worked closely with the Stoke-on-Trent City Council Community Safety Commissioning Officer and the NHS Senior Health Improvement Specialist for Oral Health. Both were instrumental in setting up the project and I don’t think it would have been such a success without their dedication and support.

“The NHS Senior Health Improvement Specialist continues to be involved with our project. Her dedication as a local dentistry champion has helped us to develop the unique model that we now use, which is specifically tailored for dentists and their teams.”

Over 150 primary health care professionals attended the first domestic abuse training sessions, with 93% of attendees from the dental profession. This included dentists, dental nurses, hygienists and reception staff.

For Hayley and her team, it was crucial for members of the dental team to realise the important part they play in ending domestic abuse.

Hayley said: “The whole dental team is in such a unique position to identify and respond to disclosures because they often form long-lasting relationships with their patients.

“Patients typically attend their dental practice for several years, so practitioners can observe changes in behaviour over time and spot the signs of domestic abuse in different ways.

“The consultation room, with the patient in the dental chair, would usually be seen as the ideal place to identify the signs of domestic abuse. However, it’s really important to recognise that the whole team have a huge part to play. The reception team play a crucial role in observing behaviours of patients in the waiting room and can pick up on a range of indicators of physical, financial and psychological abuse.”

The feedback from the dental teams about the training has been positive with many unaware of how uniquely placed they are to spot abuse, until completing the programme.

Hayley said: “Following the pandemic, we have developed our training so it is available virtually. This means it is now even more accessible for professionals.

“We’re really proud of the partnerships that we have made over the years and we now have some really passionate dental practitioners on board.

“They are leading the way in making sure that victims of abuse have more ways of accessing support.”

For more information about our dentistry training, visit our website or email stepstosafety@findtheglow.org.uk.

Need someone to talk to or know someone who does?

If you are in immediate danger please call 999

Get in touch 0330 0945 559

CALL 0330 094 5559, OR 999 IN AN EMERGENCY

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