Glow have launched a new campaign to help dental teams across Staffordshire to recognise the signs of domestic abuse and how they can respond to concerns and disclosures.
The Here to Help campaign was officially launched at Glow’s virtual conference for health professionals last week and sees dentists signing up to a six-step pledge to help create a safe environment to encourage patients to disclose and signpost them to specialist support.
Hayley Ferns, Team Leader at Glow, said: “Every victim of domestic abuse deserves the right response at the right time, to make them safe. Dentists are in a unique position to spot the signs of domestic abuse and offer a safe space for victims to reach out for support.
“On average 75% of injuries inflicted through domestic abuse occur to the head and neck, areas which dentists will notice when doing routine check-ups. So with the right information and tools, they will be better equipped to ‘ask the question’ or respond to disclosures of domestic abuse more effectively and efficiently.”
Around 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men in the UK will experience some form of domestic abuse in their lifetime, like Leah* whose dentist realised something was wrong but was too afraid to say anything: “I’d been going to my dentist for around 12 years.
“I used to be this chatty, bubbly person and I could just sit and talk to anyone about anything. And then I started going through what I was going through, and I refused to speak. I wasn’t myself anymore, I was scared all the time.
“For me it was emotional abuse, but I also started flinching anytime someone came near my face because he’d squared up to me that many times and I was terrified he was going to hit me.”
“Afterwards when I’d started to get support for my experience, I told my dentist and she knew that something was going on, but she didn’t know how to ask me.
“So when I heard about this I just had to get involved so that other dentists can have the confidence to ask the question to their patients and more people can get the help and support they need.”
Laura Breeze, Practice Manager at Wolstanton Dental and Implant Centre, said: “We signed up for Here to Help because dental teams are vitally important in recognising patients who could be experiencing domestic abuse, by identifying patterns of abuse and noticing reoccurring injuries.
“I would really encourage other dental practices to sign up to Here to Help to increase our safeguarding skillset and to provide further support, not only to our patients, but to each other and the wider community.”