Oral Health Practitioner
I’m an Oral Health Practitioner and HENRY Group Programme Facilitator in Haringey. My role involves oral health promotion, including in children centres during play sessions, as well as training Health Visitors and School Nurses in oral health.
The HENRY training was lovely, but I admit that I was sceptical during it about how effective the solution-focused HENRY approach would be, particularly when working with more vulnerable or disadvantaged clients.
I came from a health background and was used to giving advice, so at first it was a challenge for me to get my head around asking the right questions rather than giving the ‘right’ information. However, once I tried working in this new way I was a complete convert – once you’re HENRY trained you never go back! I believe HENRY has given me a voice and the tools to genuinely tune in to parents needs and feelings and support them to make lifestyle changes that are their own choices. It gives me space to talk with parents about their lifestyles and goals and listen to them better.
Before HENRY I used to meet with parents and tell them all the latest advice on oral health and what they should do to look after their teeth. I now realise that no one likes being told what to do and it isn’t the most effective way of supporting change and engaging with parents. HENRY’s influence has spread amongst my colleagues – now they see that they don’t have to have all the answers and instead, we explore options and choices with parents.
As well as being referred via children’s centres and Health Visitors, parents can also be referred to the Healthy Families group programme via my Oral Health team. The programme is really enjoyable to deliver. You can see so many benefits for parents. It’s amazing to see them grow. Many form friendships and support networks and are still meeting up. I bring my oral health knowledge in where I can, for example looking at models of teeth and photographs of healthy and unhealthy teeth when discussing sugars. The programme supports oral health in so many ways: reading labels, portion charts, healthy snack swap ideas, guidance on introducing solid foods, boundaries and guided choices, routines (which of course include tooth brushing). I see HENRY as a whole piece of work as it addresses so many areas of health, parenting, nutrition and family life.
The resources and HENRY book are fantastic. It is written perfectly. It’s lovely to know that HENRY listen to what we want as facilitators. In my visits to children’s centres I run oral health sessions in which I use the How big is a portion chart, Steps in growing, and Ball game ideas.
HENRY has also helped me as a parent. I have changed my approach. For example I was using separate (competitive) rewards pre-HENRY, now the whole family does them together and we are thriving!
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