How do we decide whether to list a business?

This has changed a lot from when we started out and created the rating scale. The rating scale was intended to cover everything from the absolute bare minimum to truly outstanding. Unfortunately it made the assumption that it was rating businesses that were consciously trying to do things to help mitigate covid infection.

Safe Inside is intended to be a rallying point for CEV communities and the original plan was listings would come from community knowledge pooling, this has also proved to be a lot slower than we hoped, so we are making a lot of calls ourselves, which is absolutely fine by the way, it’s what we are here for.

The point we come back to in everything we do is this: people have no choice but to access the sort of services we are trying to list (dentists, opticians etc), so our job is to help people find businesses where there are mitigations of any sort, as this is better than nothing. The bar is absolutely on the floor. Do we want to list somewhere that tells us they took these steps “during covid” but stopped them – no, we don’t. But if they are friendly and happy to accommodate adjustments for vulnerable patients then that is sadly good enough.

This has evolved as we do more calls – if someone has air filters but is dismissive or in any way hostile to the idea of someone asking for a FFP3 to be worn, they are not getting listed. Conversely, if a business seems genuinely caring and helpful, talks about quiet appointment slots, doing what they can to help but can’t be sure about FFP3, then we will list and provide all the information we have so people can do their own risk analysis. Whilst we specifically discuss FFP3 we will also happily list a practice that says they have FFP2s in stock and are happy to use them. A lot of practices hide behind the need to fit test the respirator. Clearly while in terms of protecting themselves day in and day out, a fit tested FFP3 will make a difference, from a patient perspective where the alternative is a pointless surgical mask, then FFP2 is OK for us.

We know just saying you run HEPA filters is not good enough, we know they should be properly sized and installed to ensure effective air circulation. Equally we acutely understand that clean air through filtration is not enough in many settings while covid is still circulating widely. Air filters are a critical part of reducing the spread which will reduce transmission which will reduce the rate of mutation which will make vaccines more effective which will eventually mean some meaningful level of protection will be possible – but today the fact is we need a layered approach – and in close contact services that means people wearing respirators.

We are absolutely not claiming that all the places we are listing are doing a great job and providing much safer environments, but they are all doing something that will have some impact on reducing the risk of infection during treatment and if that is the best option near you then we believe that justifies including them in the directory.

Also, critically, because of the above, virtually everywhere listed is NOT taking these steps routinely, they are happy to take them because they are decent caring people who will take extra steps to protect vulnerable patients. This presents a problem for people who are covid aware and cautious but not clinically vulnerable in another way. When we called and talked to dentists about covid mitigations we got, quite literally, no positive responses. Now we call and ask if they are able to accommodate a vulnerable patient who would like to start at their practice – and around 1 in 4 (less in big cities) pass the test of being decent, functioning human beings. The bottom line is your health is important and if you have to tell a lie to get someone to switch mask, then tell a lie.

Some places are outstanding and we will try and promote those as much as we can.