Expert Insights

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23rd May 2016

What makes a good dentist for somebody with a learning disability?

When I moved house I registered with a new dentist. I asked if they treated people with learning disabilities. The receptionist told me that they did so I made an appointment.

Before the dentist started looking at my teeth, I asked her if she knew what it meant when I raised my hand. She said she didn’t. I explained that this is a signal I used with my old dentist. If I needed her to stop what she was doing and let me take a break, I would put my hand up. Although she agreed, she ignored me when I raised my hand and carried on working. I started finding going to the dentist very stressful.

I would give this dentist 3 out of ten.

In the end, I stopped going and went back to my old dentist, even though it is much further away from where I live. This dentist is really good.

The reception staff are very friendly. When I get any paperwork, they explain what it says to me.

The dentist goes slowly and explains what he is going to do before he does it. When I had to have a brace, I needed to put horrible plasticine stuff in my mouth. The dentist explained to me what it was going to taste like so I was prepared.

As I said earlier, we have a signal for “please stop.” When I put up my hand he stops what he is doing and we have a little break. The appointment is never rushed, we do it at a pace I am comfortable with.

The dentist is very good at communicating with me and giving me advice about how to look after my teeth. He took the time to watch how I brushed my teeth and tell me what I was doing wrong. He gave me a timer so I would brush my teeth for the right amount of time. Before, I didn’t brush them for long enough.

I would give this dentist 10 out of 10!

*All information is correct at the time of publishing. Use of this material is subject to your acceptance of our terms and conditions.

Paul Scarrott

My Life My Choice Expert

I have a learning disability. I live a fairly independent life and care for my wife who also has a learning disability. I went to special schools when I was growing up and have been on disability related benefits for most of my adult life. I have been a trustee of My Life My Choice since 2009. I led the My Life My Choice campaigns that challenged the treatment of people with learning disabilities in Winterbourne view, and the Justice for LB campaign about a young Oxford man with learning disabilities, Connor Sparrowhawk, who died a preventable death whilst being “cared” for by Southern Health at Slade House, Oxford. I have a good knowledge of best practice in health and social care settings. I am an expert by experience for the NHS care and treatment reviews, and have carried out a number of inspections since 2014. I was an expert by experience for CQC between 2008 and 2012. I have also trained Health and Social Care students at Oxford Brookes University. I am very involved in my local community. I have served on the Thames Valley Police Independent Advisory Group since 2011. I serve on focus groups for Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust to help improve services for people with learning disabilities. I won the Oxfordshire Volunteer of the Year Award 2011 for my work with Oxfordshire County Council in helping them to improve services through many consultations and focus groups.

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