The COVID diaries – business as ‘usual’

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We catch up with Anne- Marie to see how she is getting on with the new COVID rules and regulations

Thursday 17th September

I received an email from a client to say that their flight had been delayed and they need to cancel their session. This concerned me because I have a policy that clients cannot book their session within 14 days of returning to the UK, no matter where they have flown in from. This is because the government travel updates were changing on a regular basis and it was easier to have a blanket rule that clients wait 14 days before they can come for a session.  I explained this to the client, who understood and will rebook when they have returned to the UK, taking into account the 14 day wait.

Tonight’s client didn’t manage to complete the COVID Screening Form before arriving, despite trying. Thinking it was on the website rather than in the email reminder, they hadn’t managed to find it, so they called and checked with me and I advised that I could do this with them on arrival. I spent 5 minutes going through the form on the booking system and the treatment could proceed with no problem. As this was a regular client I explained what they had to do next time, which is look out for the appointment reminder email which is sent 4 hours before the session and complete via the Edit Forms link in that email. Hopefully it should be straightforward next time! I try to make it as easy for my clients as possible, especially if they visit regularly, and it should get easier over time.

Friday 18th September

It’s a lovely sunny day today; the clinic has now been open for two weeks and I feel able to offer more appointments as my clients feel safe and I feel safe. I believe that there is now no limit to the number of people I can treat per day, although I still need to leave plenty of time between sessions for airing the room and cleaning, so for the coming week I will increase the availability and see if that encourages extra bookings, even if I decide to still only see 2-3 clients a day, there is more choice of times which may be helpful to some of my clients.

I received the “Coronavirus (COVID-19) – Businesses and Employers Bulletin” and it states the following:

“Hospitality venues in England are now legally required to enforce the rule of 6 or face a fine of up to £4,000. Designated businesses and organisations, including hospitality, close contact services and leisure venues, will also be legally required to log details of customers, visitors and staff for NHS Test and Trace. From Thursday 24th September these sectors will be required to display official NHS QR code posters at their venue entrances to help support contact tracing. Organisations can find out more about NHS QR codes and how to generate them on the NHS COVID-19 app website. Official NHS QR posters can be generated online”. 

I prepared the QR poster and displayed this in the front window of the clinic. It was quick and easy to do and now my clients can scan this code when they visit my premises if they choose to. I don’t think all my clients have smart phones so I still have to keep a log of customers (which is automatically done via the online booking system that I use).

Monday 21st September

The R rate has been rising and today there is going to be an Update from the UK Chief Medical Officers on the COVID-19 alert level. There were recommendations that the alert level move from 3 to 4. This is concerning, so I will wait to see what the next steps are. The government are due to do a further update tomorrow. 

Tuesday 22nd September

Today the government are going to announce further measures to contain the spread of the virus.

Thursday 24th September

QR confusion! Today the NHS COVID-19 app goes live. However, having tried to download from the app store it becomes apparent that my iPhone 6 does not support the new app:

“The app is available for smartphones only – not tablets, smartwatches or other devices. To get started, go to Android’s Google Play or Apple’s App Store and search for “NHS Covid-19”. The handsets must have Android 6.0 (released in 2015) or iOS 13.5 (released in May 2020) and Bluetooth 4.0 or higher. That excludes the iPhone 6 and older versions of Apple’s handsets”. Source: BBC News 23 Sept 2020.

There have also been a lot of posts in the Facebook groups that I am in about the NHS QR Code Poster, and confusion about who actually needs to display it. The poster is for close contact services, including hairdressers, barbershops and tailors to display the poster at their venue, so this would not be relevant to mobile massage therapists. There has been much discussion and confusion, with some mobile therapists wondering if this applies to them, however as the poster is for displaying at a venue, then this does not seem relevant to mobile therapists, who keep records of their appointments which can be used for the purpose of test and trace.

Friday 25th September

I received the COVID-19 Business & Employers Bulletin which announced an update to the SEISS scheme for the self-employed:

“The Government is continuing its support for millions of self-employed individuals by extending the Self Employment Income Support SchemeGrant (SEISS). An initial taxable grant will be provided to those who are currently eligible for SEISS and are continuing to actively trade but face reduced demand due to coronavirus. The initial lump sum will cover three months’ worth of profits for the period from November to the end of January next year. This is worth 20% of average monthly profits, up to a total of £1,875. An additional second grant, which may be adjusted to respond to changing circumstances, will be available for self-employed individuals to cover the period from February 2021 to the end of April”.

I am pleased that further support will be available to self-employed therapists, as the last grant was stated as the final one, so there has clearly been a re-think, however these are difficult times for many people and the future right now feels uncertain.

I have my clinic this afternoon – bookings are coming in, but very slowly. I will compose a newsletter to my clients and send out this weekend, and let them know how things are going, the feedback from returning clients and how I can support people with therapies during this difficult time. I feel like I need to reassure my clients that I am working to the new guidelines, however I also want them to look forward to their session. I asked one of my first clients to return if they would write a short testimonial about their session and they were happy to do so, so will include this in the next newsletter that I do.

Tuesday 29th September

There are still lots of questions around QR codes however further updates state that mobile therapists DO need to have a poster to take with them:

“If you have a mobile business that provides close contact services, you’re legally required to have an official NHS QR code poster that your clients can use to check-in with you”. 

Wednesday 30th September

A few more enquiries today that turn into bookings, which is a positive start to the day. I am being found on Google and getting new clients, which is good, during what is proving to be a very difficult time for therapists.

There was an update by the Prime Minister today due to the rate of infections climbing and how further restrictions have had to be enforced:

www.gov.uk/government/speeches/prime-ministers-statement-on-coronavirus-covid-19-30-september-2020

It seems like there are more changes ahead…

As we follow Anne-Marie’s journey, 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.