Although dentistry has been long considered a stressful profession, recently the wellbeing of dentists has come under the spotlight.
A pre-Covid survey of UK dentists by the BDA revealed that ‘dentists working in the UK exhibit high levels of stress and burnout and low well-being’*. These high levels of stress have been associated with poorer health and even suicidal thoughts. With the Covid pandemic increasing stress-levels even further, the wellbeing of many dental professionals is at a crisis point.
Ways to improve staff wellbeing in your practice
With stress levels at an all-time high, when designing your clinic it’s important to consider your staff areas as carefully as your patient areas. Most clinicians put a lot of focus on the patient experience, but how much thought have you put into your staff’s experience?
A few tweaks can make a big difference to your team’s wellbeing. Here are a few ideas:
Increase natural light
Although bright artificial lighting is often the easiest choice, it creates eyestrain and often headaches. Introducing more natural light can bring about dramatic improvements. Are desks located by windows where possible? If not, moving them could be an easy fix. More and more clinics are incorporating glass partitioning in place of walls to increase levels of natural light.
If artificial light is the only option or natural light levels are low, it’s worth considering installing circadian lighting which mimics daylight patterns by adjusting colour and brightness levels throughout the day. Regulating our natural circadian body rhythms helps regulate biological processes including the release of hormones and the control of blood sugar.
Layer your lighting
Using layers of light rather than a single light source from above is another way to mimic the effects of natural light. Natural light, unlike the light from ceiling-mounted fixtures, is usually uneven with contrasts of light and shade. By introducing task lighting, uplighting and downlighting, particularly in open plan areas, you can help alleviate light-induced fatigue.
Incorporate natural materials
Reflecting nature in interior design, or ‘biophilia’ as it’s often known, has been proven to increase wellbeing and reduce stress. Materials such as wood, slate, granite and marble can not only look stunning, they also inspire thoughts of nature and its associated benefits. The calming properties of natural colour schemes have always been a popular option for creating a restful ambience, whether you use earthy tones, soft greens or echo the blue of the ocean.
It may be a simple idea but introducing plants provides many health benefits – from removing air pollutants to creating a welcoming environment. It could be as simple as bringing in a few pot plants or something more dramatic like creating a living wall. Perhaps there is an outdoor space that staff can use to take some time out and immerse themselves in nature. It’s worth noting that although artificial plants can create a natural feeling environment, they don’t have the same air purifying properties as real plants.
Create welcoming staff areas
Rather than being pulled together as an afterthought, staff areas should be planned carefully as welcoming spaces with wellbeing in mind. Staff rooms should be relaxing and inviting areas where people can retreat to from the stresses of the surgery and clinics planned to promote staff health and wellbeing. One example is a client who recently installed bike racks at their surgery to encourage staff to cycle to work and located their staff room looking on to a garden to create a relaxing space.
Whether you’re looking to set up a new clinic or refurbish an existing one, our team can help you tailor your practice to meet both your staff and patients’ needs. Contact Apollo Interiors to discuss your next fit out.
*A survey of stress, burnout and well-being in UK dentists – Collin V, Toon M, O’Selmo E, Reynolds L, Whitehead P, 2019.