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Visiting the dentist need not always be scary

Adam And His DadI support Adam, a young man who lives in Honiton, Devon. Adam has high support needs as he has Down’s Syndrome, other learning disabilities, and is unable to communicate verbally. He is however, very able to let us know what he wants and when.

At a routine dental appointment, Adam was told he needed to have a tooth removed. A mental capacity assessment concluded that Adam was unable to understand the decision to be made around his dental treatment. This led to a Best Interest Meeting, which included Adam’s family and me and my team. Everyone agreed that Adam would be unable to stay still long enough for the extraction and so the discussion turned to general anaesthetic, and consideration of the particular risks this could pose to Adam. Adam and his parents discussed the situation with an anaesthetist, who reassured them and they were happy for the extraction to proceed under general anaesthetic.

On the day, Adam and I met his dad, Brian, at the hospital. The hospital staff had been briefed beforehand, so when we arrived they were very helpful and facilitated all of Adam’s needs. Whilst Adam was having his tooth out, his Dad sat with me and we chatted about his son as a child, which I found very interesting.

The operation lasted approximately 45 minutes and Adam woke up with his dad beside him. The whole process was very relaxed and inclusive. Stress was kept to a minimum and it was really nice for Adam’s family to be involved throughout the process. I'm pleased to say there have not been any complications.

I feel privileged to have been involved in Adam’s support. I’ve been impressed by how all involved were dedicated to ensure Adam had full access to dental care and treatment.

Sometimes, people with disabilities may need extra time, care or special features that suit their individual needs, to enable them to receive the proper treatment they require. Often this involves policies and procedures, but I have seen how the Mental Capacity Act can empower people and how Best Interest Meetings can plan for successful support. I’m thrilled to have been part of this success story.

Nicky Harper
Team Leader

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