Lavender Road Dental Practice sits just off one of the main roads into Leicester, deep in the Midlands. An unassuming exterior, sitting on a quiet tree-lined street, belies the
forward-thinking practice that sits within. Following a summer overhaul, it not only boasts four single-chair surgeries, but also has a fully kitted out implant surgery (with preparation and recovery rooms), a CT scanner and even its own lab on site.
Principal Chris Lucas moved to Lavender Road in 2001, setting up the business as a sole practitioner and bringing a few of his existing patients and members of staff with him. He bought the building next door a few years later, with the intention of incorporating it into a much lager practice setup, and gradually started to convert to private practice.
Six years on, and the dream is complete. Lavender Road Dental Practice is the finished article, having finally moved to fill the adjoining building and grown significantly. The staff roster has more than doubled in size since the refurbishment has been completed.
For a refurbishment that effectively involved redesigning two entire buildings, the work was carried out extremely quickly. Using the May Bank Holiday as a starting point, the practice closed on the Thursday and was open for business as usual by the following Wednesday.
In just under a week the practice acquired two new surgeries, two new staff rooms and an extension (as well as the second building). Chris – not one to miss an opportunity – made full use of the practice closure by sending the whole team for training while the building work was at its height.
The bulk of the building work was done over those five days but the scale of the job meant that the work carried on into September. The priority at all times was keeping the practice running – even if it meant working around a few disruptions. The idea was that any inconvenience from this would be offset by the bigger benefits.
Installing a fully-functioning laboratory on site, which was one of these benefits, seems to have already paid off. ‘Having James (Snee, the practice’s now resident technician) on site has been fantastic for us,’ said practice manager Mandy Winkless. ‘It has really made a difference, both in providing a faster service and in giving that extra personal touch for our patients.’
A CT scanner was installed in August, cementing the practice’s high-tech profile. Not only does the machine make the practice able to deal with a huge range of referrals, it could ultimately help ease the burden on NHS hospital resources too. An advanced, private practice that could help the community – Lavender Road is almost one of a kind.
Education, education, education
Chris himself is no slouch, either. Having been working with implants since 1990, he is closely linked with Nobel Biocare, and regularly provides training on the company’s systems.
In fact, anyone who attended the Nobel Biocare World Tour in London last year might have caught Chris performing live implant surgery. He also lectured at the Nobel Biocare World Congress in Las Vegas earlier this year, and will be leading a three-day course in Washington DC this November.
Education is clearly very close to Chris’ heart. He told me: ‘We want to push the profession forward.’ He takes pride in keeping on top of the latest developments in dentistry and, in turn, helping others improve their skills and knowledge base: ‘With the new surgeries and equipment that the refurb has brought in for us, we can start establishing the practice as a centre of excellence for training and raising the game of everyone in the profession,’ he added.
A major feature of the newly refurbished practice is the AV (audio-visual) training room that links with the implant surgery next door. From here, dentists in the training area can watch Chris as he performs implant surgery, and talk to him directly as he carries out the procedures.
The way the practice runs reflects this ethos. No dentist has their own surgery and the clinical support staff rotate as well, so that no one has the chance to get complacent in their work. ‘The practice is built around practical coaching,’ Chris explained. ‘By moving everyone around we ensure that staff are always learning from each other. It keeps things fresh, and knowing that you’re constantly growing in your role is a great motivator too.
‘I think that everyone who comes here – and particularly our staff – realise that we’re more than just a dental practice. We really want to make a difference.’
This outlook certainly seems to keep the team focused. Everyone at the practice is enthusiastic about Chris and the business. There’s a real belief among the staff that they are part of something different.
The onus is placed firmly on staff involvement, and when your team runs to nine nurses and seven dentists before you include any hygienists, admin staff, or clinical support team, that’s quite a feat.
The practice operates a shift system to function properly during its 8am-8pm opening hours, making regular team meetings an essential fixture.
Aside from weekly and monthly updates for all members of staff on the ins and outs of the practice, the entire team gets together for a few days each year to discuss progress over the last few months and those that lie ahead. The team – no matter – how large it is – is a pivotal part of Lavender Road’s success.
It’s clear that refurbishment is just the start of the story. Chris is already hoping to expand his range of implant courses and offer training for nurses who want to get involved with implants. The referrals side of the business could make a real difference for patients and practices all over the Midlands. The future looks bright in Leicester.
Lavender Road Dental Practice can be found at 34 Lavender Road, Leicester, LE3 1AL. For more information on training course or referrals, call the practice on 0116 222 1880.