The Sunflower Dentist

So you might have seen the Sunflower Lanyards about, but what are they...?

Me presenting at the BDSA Conference back in March

When you see someone with a Sunflower Lanyard, you are seeing somebody who has a hidden disability. 

The scheme was launched in 2016 at Gatwick Airport to facilitate passengers who had non-obvious disabilities in their journeys so that staff could offer additional help, time or assistance when moving through the airport. 

Since then, the scheme has grown across a large network of travel companies, shops, organisations and health care settings not just in the UK, but worldwide. The company itself is a private company based in the UK who intend for their lanyards and other mechanise to be given to the people who need them free of charge. 

Not all disabilities are visible – some are hidden and not immediately obvious, such as learning difficulties,  autism, mental health as well as mobility, speech, visual or hearing impairments. Living with a hidden disability can make daily life more demanding for many people, but it can be difficult for others to identify, acknowledge or understand the challenges you face. The lanyards allow for these people to be visible, when they want to be. 

Both my hospitals are highly involved in promoting this scheme and any organisation can purchase merchandise to give to their users on the website, as well as enrol on training for their staff so they are disability aware. 

It is important for ALL dental teams to be aware of any disabilities, whether they are visible or not, when planning care for our patients. As a special care dentist I am very used to managing patients with disabilities, but it is not just the responsibility of my speciality to be aware of these issues. I am very glad to hear announcements and promotion, especially now during the pandemic, about invisible or hidden disabilities. We are all hyper-vigilant of others conforming to social distancing and wearing masks, but for many people that just isn't possible. Being able to advertise discretely a reason why they might not be conforming to this guidance is a great way to help others be non-judgemental and make reasonable adjustments for those who need it. 

This is an approach we need to implement in providing dental care for our patients too! This topic I covered back in March, pre-lockdown, to dental students at the BDSA conference. If you'd like to have a look at my presentation, click here

So now if you see someone wearing a sunflower.... you know what it means and I hope you will be more accommodating to their needs, whether dental or otherwise! 

We can ALL be Sunflower Dentists (and DCPs)!

Do you have any questions about special care dentistry? Please leave them below

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