The COVID diaries – preparing for safe practice

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Covid-19 Returning to Work

As we close on another month of adjusting to the new normal, we catch up with Anne-Marie to see how she has navigated the past few weeks

With September just around the corner, it seems that time has really been flying. Despite the stress, uncertainty and unquestionable impact COVID has had, it’s important to look back and acknowledge how far you’ve come, how well you’ve coped and how resilient practitioners across the country have proved themselves to be. Therapist Anne-Marie provides us with the latest instalment of her lock down diary, from adjusting to daily updates to completing risk assessment, read on to see how she’s been preparing to return to practice.

August 1st 

Today shielding for people at higher risk from Coronavirus has paused.

August 3rd 

I wrote a comprehensive checklist of everything that I have to do in order to re-open my clinic and plan to work through the list over the coming week. There is a lot to do, but it feels like a really positive step towards reopening in September. Looking over the government latest guidance, the WHO & NHS information, plus the FHT Return to Work Pack and the GCMT resources, I feel that all the information is at my fingertips; I just need to get my head around it and plan. I contact my professional association to clarify about getting consent for the clinically vulnerable, as some of my clients are over 70. I will not be seeing any clients from the clinically extremely vulnerable group when I return to practice and until the COVID situation changes significantly.

August 4th 

I spend a lot of time checking the various Gov updates and found out today that I can subscribe to receive all updates about any changes published on the Gov website on coronavirus – this could be anything from 200-800 updates a week, apparently! You can also just choose from one of the 11 sub-topics (Testing; Health & Wellbeing; Support for Businesses; Work & Financial Support etc.). I decide to have all updates sent to me, once a day, with all the changes made that day which, is what is recommended. I will see how that goes, if it is too many I will alter my subscription. It just shows how much the situation is changing and how much as therapists we are having to adapt, sometimes on a daily basis. At least I will be knowledgeable and can impart this info into reopening my practice safely.

I also signed up to the FHT Accredited COVID Health & Safety & Hygiene Course for Therapists (3 CPD points) and am pleased that I will get a certificate afterwards; it will be reassuring for my clients on their return.

We include a certificate that you can display in your salon/spa on your wall, window or door to give your clients the reassurance they may need, to know you are up to date with all the hygiene, health and safety standards that are required. This works in a similar way to the restaurants that have a hygiene rating, where they display a sticker on their door showing their rating. We appreciate it is not exactly the same but even though you have not had an inspection at your premises, by displaying the certificate it will give your clients confidence that you are taking their health safely seriously as you have completed the most up to date course on COVID-19 Hygiene and safely” – Gateway Workshops Ltd 

I received an update from my professional association stating that from August 8th it is mandatory for all clients to wear a mask and, where this is not possible, we must update our Risk Assessments accordingly. Also included was an update on Test & Trace – if a therapist should test positive for Coronavirus we must use the NHS Test & Trace service, they will then get in contact with anyone we have been in close contact with, which may include our clients. I will need to update my COVID Screening & Consent Form with this new information and look at what records we are supposed to keep to support the NHS Test & Trace system.

August 6th 

I received an email from ICO about Contact Tracing so I need to familiarise myself with this information.

August 10th 

Today I did the COVID-19 Health, Safety and Hygiene Returning to Work Course. This was really useful – it discussed the current guidelines, risk assessment, information on coronavirus, cleaning procedures, PPE and more, and then how to put all this information into action. I received a certificate to display in my practice and on my website, and will reference this in my newsletter to my clients when I reopen, reassuring them that I have done further training to enhance safety.

August 11th 

Today I started on the Risk Assessment. The GCMT have a really useful Risk Assessment template which is nicely laid out and I could easily work with and it also has really helpful prompts. I would allow a good few hours for this! It needs a lot of thought and has taken me a couple of hours to do just the first three sections. The good thing is I now have a comprehensive list of PPE and cleaning items to source, so can get this ticked off my list.

I also attended the GCMT Meet the Regulators and Industry Experts Follow Up on Zoom webinar to find out the latest information – a 2-hour, very informative webinar, outlining best practice and how to work safely during the pandemic, with plenty of time for questions at the end.

August 12th 

It is hot today – 32 degrees! So, I bought a couple of fans for the treatment room as it does currently appear that it is fine to use a desk fan to improve the circulation of outside air.

I finally finished the Risk Assessment – it’s 16 pages long and took nearly all day! I have lots of action points from this, but it feels thorough and I can now focus on the items I need to purchase and the forms that need to be updated in order to return to work safely. By spending time on the Risk Assessment it has also given me a clear understanding of how I will need to run my practice to make it as safe as possible. I also read the WHO Q&A on COVID to get a clearer understanding of the virus as part of doing my Risk Assessment. 

Aug 13th 

Today the government announced that: “Beauty salons, tattoo studios, spas and barbers across England will be able to offer all close contact services – including front of the face treatments such as eyebrow threading, eyelash treatments and facials from August 15th under new guidance. Taking into account new evidence provided by SAGE and consultation with industry, the Government has also confirmed today that all staff offering close contact services, including hairdressers, should now wear a face mask (type 2 surgical), in addition to a clear visor that covers the face. This will help protect the customer and staff from respiratory droplets caused by sneezing, coughing, or speaking.” 

I did previously purchase the IIR masks, so have them ready for use.

The government also announced that people arriving in England from France, the Netherlands, Monaco, Malta, Turks and Caicos Islands and Aruba from 4am on August 15th will need to self-isolate for 2 weeks, as the countries are removed from the travel exemptions list. I hope that this announcement doesn’t affect too many therapists, either if they have gone on holiday or if their clients travelled abroad and will have to postpone their sessions on their return.

The government also states that, as of Monday, the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme will open for claims for a second and final grant. I feel better informed than I did a few weeks ago, but the rules are still changing every day.

As we follow Anne-Marie’s journey over the coming weeks, we would love to hear your stories, too. Can you relate to Anne-Marie’s experience? Have you felt overwhelmed by the information available? What have you struggled with/? Please share in the comments and please sign up to become a member of PPH to receive industry news and updates.

We would like to stress that all information given in our COVID series is not exhaustive and while we have tried to ensure that the information provided in this document is accurate, PPH cannot be held liable for any errors or omissions. The COVID situation is constantly evolving and the information is changing on a daily basis. We urge you to closely follow your government, professional association and insurance company’s latest guidelines and updates, taking precedence over any recommendations communicated by PPH.