Please note: The information in this article is intended for the use of dental professionals in the United Kingdom only.
Dental Safeguarding Levels Explained
There is a lot of misinterpretation surrounding safeguarding training levels in the United Kingdom. One piece of statutory guidance you will be familiar with, ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’, which nearly all social, health, voluntary and community professions follow, previously measured safeguarding competences in levels. However, in 2013, the guidance dispensed with all reference to levels, and today, the only major sector that uses levels to measure safeguarding competence is the healthcare sector – which details its unique system in the Intercollegiate Document.
In your role as a dental professional, the current safeguarding levels outlined in the Intercollegiate Document are still highly relevant to you, despite other professions such as teachers and childminders no longer needing to follow a similar system.
If you overhear somebody saying that safeguarding levels no longer apply, remember that this is only in reference to the ‘Working Together’ levels system. It is equally important to remember that the now obsolete ‘Working Together’ safeguarding levels were never identical to those in the Intercollegiate Document, and historically, this was the cause of a lot of confusion.
What does this mean for me?
In short, this means that when searching for a suitable dental safeguarding training course, you need to ensure that the training outcomes meet the requirements for your specific level, as outlined in the Intercollegiate Document. If you can see no reference to healthcare levels, it is always best to confirm that the course is suitable for you by contacting your NHS Trust or Local Safeguarding Children Board first.
Generally speaking, staff in a dental practice should only require the first 2 levels of safeguarding training. Level 1 is a requirement for all staff members. Level 2 is a requirement for all clinical staff, plus any non-clinical staff who perform duties that require more in-depth contact with children, young people, vulnerable adults and/or parents/carers.
It is rare that a member of general dental staff will require Level 3 safeguarding training, which is usually reserved for specialist paediatric dentists and those who have more direct involvement with children, or who deal with child protection as a regular feature of their work – but Level 3 training may also be a requirement for staff with a lead role or special interest in child protection or dental education.
Safeguarding training Levels 4 and 5 are reserved for named and designated professionals, and it is unlikely that you will need this level of training within a general dental practice.
Do I need Level 1 dental safeguarding training?
Whether you work in a clinical or non-clinical capacity, one requirement remains the same for every member of staff in a dental practice: you must have an up-to-date safeguarding certificate in Level 1 training. Even staff who require training at Levels 2 or 3 should complete Level 1 safeguarding training as well, because this provides the basic knowledge that further training will build upon.
The Child Protection Company offers an Introduction to Adult/Child Protection online safeguarding training course developed specifically for the dental sector, which is recommended by the British Dental Association and is recognised as being broadly in line with the Level 1 requirements of the Intercollegiate Document. The course takes between 1.5-2 hours to complete, and is equivalent to 3 hours of verifiable CPD. You will receive a certificate valid for 2 years upon successful completion.
Do I need Level 2 dental safeguarding training?
It is safe to assume that all dental staff working in a clinical capacity, as well as any non-clinical dental staff whose duties require them to have more in-depth contact with children, young people or vulnerable adults, will require Level 2 training. Certainly, all dentists, dental nurses and other dental care professionals require Level 2 training, as is explicitly stated in the Intercollegiate Document.
The Child Protection Company also offers an online Further Adult/Child Protection training course developed specifically for the dental sector, which is recommended by the British Dental Association and is recognised as being broadly in line with the Level 2 requirements of the Intercollegiate Document when taken alongside our online Introduction to Adult/Child Protection training course. Both courses take between 1.5-2 hours each to complete, and each course is equivalent to 3 hours of verifiable CPD under the General Dental Council Lifelong Learning Scheme. You will receive a safeguarding training certificate valid for 2 years upon successful completion of each course.
Can dental staff take online safeguarding training courses?
Rather than sitting on a waiting list for face-to-face training, or having to close the practice for a staff training day, online safeguarding courses offer a unique flexibility that many dental teams prefer. This is the reason thousands of practices have migrated to online learning in recent years.
The Intercollegiate Document states that online training courses are appropriate for dental safeguarding Levels 1 and 2, but that those requiring Levels 3 and above can use online training as preparation for reflective team-based learning only. So, if you are a dental professional who only requires Level 1 or Level 2 safeguarding training, it is perfectly acceptable for you to complete an online safeguarding course – providing that it is certifiable, and that it makes explicit reference to the Intercollegiate Document safeguarding levels.
How often do dental professionals have to complete safeguarding training?
While the Intercollegiate Document states that staff should receive training every 3 years as a minimum, at the Child Protection Company, we recommend you complete a training course at least bi-annually – this is why all our training certificates are valid for 2 years.
It is vital to remember that safeguarding training should be part of an ongoing CPD within your dental practice. A valid training certificate is an absolute requirement, but the topic of safeguarding should be discussed frequently within your teams, and all staff should continue to engage with the subject of safeguarding beyond simply completing a training course. This applies to all members of staff, whether they work directly with children or not.
As a member of staff in a dental practice, you are in prime position to be able to spot signs and indicators of abuse, whether they are noticed in the waiting room or the surgery – so every member of your team should have good knowledge of how to deal with any concerns, and this should be as up-to-date as possible.
Please remember that training alone cannot enable an organisation to meet all of its safeguarding responsibilities, or all the safeguarding requirements of bodies such as Ofsted and CQC. Training is an essential element of a wider approach to safeguarding, which must also include appropriate policies, practices and organisational culture.
For more information about safeguarding training for your dental practice, our friendly customer service team at the Child Protection Company are happy to assist anytime. Please call us on 01327 552030, speak to us on live chat, or email firstname.lastname@example.org today.