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It’s ok not to be ok

It’s not very often that I hear a piece of news that stops me in my tracks but on Saturday I read on social media about the sudden death of Caroline Flack and it did just that, I even had to check from another source that this tragic news was correct, and sadly – it was.

Caroline was young, beautiful and talented, she had achieved so much, outsiders would say she had the perfect life until just late, she had a story but it’s a story we’ve all heard about via the press. Nobody knows her real story other than her nearest and dearest.

Caroline’s death has affected the whole nation because her life shouldn’t have ended this way, I am mourning for someone that I don’t even know on a personal level, someone that I know very little about in reality, yes, I’ve seen her on social media, I’ve seen her in the press, but these are just snippets of a person, yet I’m deeply saddened by her death.

Caroline’s life had taken an unexpected turn of events, there is no doubt about that. We don’t have the evidence and we cannot judge nor can we change what sadly happened to Caroline, but we can change our approach so that history doesn’t repeat itself.

You never know what people are hiding behind their smile and Caroline was hiding a whole world of pain. The emotions that come with that pain can be very much up and down, how she was feeling at her darkest hour may have been very low compared to how she may have woken up feeling the next day.

Through tough times it seems things will never improve but they will, they may even get worse before they get better but sometimes you have to ride the waves to reach the shore and some of the toughest problems will get fixed eventually. It is sad when people feel there is no other way out than suicide and it breaks those around you who must live with the aftermath and the unanswered questions. I’m sure many of Caroline’s friends will be questioning their actions, could they have done more, could they have prevented it by being there more? We all know life takes over, it doesn’t mean that we aren’t thinking of our friends and plan to give them a call, but would their call have changed anything? The sad truth is, sometimes people don’t want to be helped, you can offer support, you can listen but if they won’t accept your help then you cannot force them. I always try to tell my friends going through a rough time to focus on the positives, because there are always positives, Caroline was beautiful, she had friends who cared and her boyfriend loved her, but her darkness inside overshadowed all of that, to the point that she felt taking her life was the only option.

I find it very sad that the death of Caroline means the world has become a little wiser on the importance of being kind, but it shouldn’t take a life to make us realise this. I have always tried to be a kind person because I have been at the receiving end of unkindness and I wouldn’t want to make anyone feel how that felt for me.

I plea for anyone feeling pain, feeling their lowest, feeling alone, that they seek help, this can be off a group like Samaritans, a friend or a healthcare provider and this includes us.

A dental practice wouldn’t spring to mind as a place that you can talk about your feelings, but we care. We would urge our clients to open up because we may be the only people you feel you can turn to. At each appointment we will ask you how your doing, and do you know what? It’s ok to not be ok.  We regularly see clients going through tough times who spill their hearts to us, we show empathy, we listen, and we don’t make judgement, we have even cried with our clients (we really have).

Please don’t ever feel alone, there is always someone to turn to, the pain that you are in now will improve, you just need to ride those waves and if you accept help, you won’t sink.

What acts of kindness have taught me

During the lead up to Christmas, we carried out daily random acts of kindness to spread some festive cheer.

I learned a lot during this period and what better way to share it with you then in a follow-up blog.

I discovered that kindness is very much like a boomerang, when people benefitted from the random acts of kindness they often did something nice in return. We have received many messages of thanks both in person and via email, the one that stood out the most was the very grateful and polite thank you that I received from a homeless gentleman that I gave a care pack to.

There is a general perception of the homeless. People consider them as scary and dangerous. In many ways, our ideas about homelessness are shaped not by direct experience, but rather are influenced by media reports or the stories that our friends tell us. These indirect encounters have an impact upon our views. When you next pass a homeless person on the street I urge you to smile at them, respond to them when they ask you for some change, even if it’s an apology that you don’t have any to give. My husband passed a homeless lady before Christmas and he didn’t have any spare change but he had just bought some lunch and gave her his bag of crisps. Any gesture, even if just a smile or a kind reply is better than walking by like you are above them. After all everyone has a story!

I also learned not to expect anything in return. When you perform a random act of kindness, you get a sense of fulfillment when your act of kindness is acknowledged but expecting to be praised every time will set you up for disappointment, sometimes the reaction from the recipient falls short of what you expected and this can lead to disappointment if you keep expectations low then the acknowledgments you receive are an added bonus.

You also need to be prepared for rejection, we contacted many charities during the month of December wanting to make helpful donations to their causes but we had several rejections as they had already received so many donations from others that they had no room for more. It is reassuring to know that others are giving to Charity but it was deflating to hear that your help is not required.

I found that if you are working as a team to perform these acts of kindness then you need several fully invested people to keep the momentum going, people who know me, know that I don’t do failure so would have followed this through despite my personal workload and time restraints but the fully invested team members made a task that could easily have failed a huge success and I owe it’s success to them. We really do have the best team at Christchurch and I’m so proud to be a part of it.

I think we would all benefit from being a little kinder, being kind doesn’t have to be spending your last £4 on a coffee for the person behind you in the queue, it can be a simple smile’.

‘A smile costs nothing but gives much. It enriches those who receive without making poorer those who give’

Our Raving Fans

In dentistry, it is very easy to get caught up in fixing smiles and the running of the practice that we lose track of whether we are still providing you with that ‘Wow factor’ patient experience. This is when our 5 star google reviews come into their own, they stop the whole team in their tracks because we love to hear your positive comments about the service that we are providing and that our hard work is paying off.

We want our clients to have the best experience here at Christchurch and have invested a lot into making sure that you leave the practice happy and raving about us to your friends and family.
You are not just our clients; you are our raving fans and our shop window. We don’t do paid advertising and rely on the experience we give you bringing in word of mouth referrals so go and tell everyone about how great Christchurch is and what makes us stand out above the rest by writing us a google review. Many of our new clients who found us via google will say the chose us above other practices in the area because of our positive google reviews. One patient said recently that she googled ‘The best dentist in Suffolk’ and the search and reviews led her to us.

If you are an existing client who is a raving fan and haven’t done so already; then we would be very grateful if you could start spreading the Christchurch word.

So how can you spread the word?

• Tell your friends about your positive experience with us.
• Write a google review.
• Write a Facebook review.
• Like our Facebook page.
• Follow us on Instagram.
• Comment on our posts.
• Share our posts.

These positive reviews mean so much to us as a team and a business as they reflect that we are offering the 5-star patient experience that we strive to deliver here at Christchurch. The reviews boost our team morale and the reputation of our practice. There is nothing like positive feedback from a client.

If you haven’t yet visited us and want to receive our 5-star patient experience and join our raving fans, then contact our reception team on 01473 250977 or [email protected]. We can’t wait to meet you and show you what all the hype is about.

Blogging about ‘Nothing’

I decided that today would be the day that I write my next blog. So far this morning, I’ve made several phone calls, dealt with my growing inbox and had 3 cups of tea all with my next blog ticking away in the back of my mind, hoping that at some point I would have a eureka moment on what exactly to blog about but no eureka moments today. This could have easily made me put it off for another day but instead I’ve decided to blog about ‘nothing’.
Wouldn’t it have been easy to just put it off and focus on one of my many other tasks? Of course it would! I would still have a sense of fulfilment as I ticked more jobs off my list but the blog would still be looming over me.
I find we are all guilty of that, from leaving the washing up to leaving that cavity that the dentist found at your last oral health check. The problem is that the washing up will continue to build up and that cavity won’t be getting any smaller either. In dentistry we often find that what starts off as a very small problem in the mouth and that you didn’t even know was there, can very quickly become a larger and more expensive problem. The point of view from the client is that it’s only small, it can wait. However, then they are too busy to attend their next oral health review or book that filling appointment and by the time they come back again that small problem has grown or they are booking in for an emergency appointment because now they have toothache and don’t just need a filling now, they need more extensive treatment.
The one good piece of advice that I can give you today, is don’t put it off, my blog would have been even harder to write tomorrow, the pile of washing up will take longer tomorrow and if you have been putting off that filling you might be waking up with toothache and a larger dental bill tomorrow.

One Step at a Time

Being practice manager, I spend little time in surgery these days but when I do I often hear ‘I only brush once a day, I’m too tired in the evening so skip brushing before bed’, ‘I have a sweet tooth’ or ‘I don’t floss as often as I should’. Does any of this sound familiar?

The thing is, these are all things you can control. You can control your attitude and your effort, sometimes it takes making some changes to your routine but it’s all achievable.

The expression ‘one step at a time’ can be applied to most goals and we’ve all been told to take things one step at a time at least once in our life time.

The idea is that small changes can all add up to big differences, but is this really case? After all, wouldn’t it be better to just go big or go home as this will help you achieve your goals faster?

One of the major problems with big changes is that you often end up needing to alter your daily routine or your lifestyle in order to accommodate them. This can be incredibly difficult to do and mean that it is harder to keep up with them, as other things will get in the way.
This increases your chances of not achieving what you set out to, which can ultimately see you give up. However, taking things one step at a time means that small changes can be slotted around your daily schedule so you aren’t having to make large changes to accommodate them.

Let’s take interdental cleaning as an example, if you routinely sit down at 7.30pm to watch Eastenders, then why not sit down with your interdental brushes or floss and do a bit of multitasking at the beginning of the programme.

I went to church last week to see my daughters perform in their Easter service and the prayers that the children were saying really pulled on my heart strings, they were praying for their families health and happiness, praying that the sea doesn’t drown in plastic, apologising for the pollution in the world, praying for world peace.

Some of these things are controllable like lowering pollution and plastics in the sea, even world peace, and relatively speaking they make not brushing teeth twice a day or not flossing sound incredibly minor. Thing is, if we can’t even make the effort to alter our routines in order to do the small things then what hope do these children have when it comes to answering their prayers.

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