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a blog by Chris Barrow

"Pace not race" - why the marathon runner's mantra applies right now

Many is the time in the last 6 months that reference has been made to us "not necessarily being in the same boat but weathering the same storm."

At the moment, it feels as if the storm has heightened and that we are all, in fact, corks wildly bobbing up and down in a tormented ocean.

The last 7 days brought the official second wave, local lockdowns, students incarcerated in halls, an economy that continues into recession and the new package of financial support measures for business, employees and the self-employed (which starts the process of winding down state subsidy).

I mentioned last week signs of dental plan cancellations. By Friday I was listening to my first account of a patient who had agreed to treatment and finance, only to change his mind due to "uncertainty about my future job security."

OK - Monday morning and I'm sounding like a prophet of doom. Sorry - that's not my intention.

Rather to sound a rallying call to us all.

1. To remain vigilant in the observation of SOPs and social distancing in the workplace.

Here's a question that came in from a client overnight:

"I am trying to answer questions from associates whether we need to wear masks when we are not in treatment rooms? i.e. sat in the staff room...or when not on reception desk"

My response is to refer to accounts of practices forced to close after team members have tested positive, following infection by their own family members or by patients. It's not OK to sit around in the staff room and chat with no masks on, or ask "can I make you a cuppa whilst I'm making mine?" It's no fun to have your business closed right now due to Covid.

2. To keep the pedal to the metal when it comes to responsible internal marketing.

It's really important to ask patients to write Reviews and also to provide testimonials at the end of treatment, whether written or video.

In spite of the challenges we are all facing, new patient numbers are still good. People are redirecting their disposable income into dentistry. In spite of the recession, retail sales are still running at the same level as a year ago (although moving online).

3. More than ever, make sure that you are communicating to your patients the benefits of long term care, regular attendance and plan membership. Whether that's by rewriting your recall comms and/or sending email newsletters and video emails.

4. The other major message we were given by Government last week was to dig in for a long-term fight against coronavirus - 6 months was mentioned, I'm reading that as three years.

Do you remember when we all thought this would be over and done with in 12 weeks?

The changes we have had to make in our routines, both personal and professional, are here for the foreseeable future.

I see little point in planning for a return to normal. Better to plan for a marathon - the mantra for which has always been "pace, not race".

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