COVID-19 : Going Back to Work?

Nick Elwell

Take care: let common sense prevail.

COVID-19 hasn’t gone away: it’s lying in wait down the highway we all have to travel. We just have to be prepared, diligent, and careful.

In our endeavours to provide some basic information please forgive us for stating the obvious – but we think this is necessary.

We all have different definitions of cleanliness – and there is no absolute cleanliness; nothing (on this planet) can be completely sterile and safe for human kind. So let us consider appropriate cleanliness.

Most of us would accept that appropriate cleanliness forms part of our daily lives – so we just need to adapt what we already do.

For example, wherever you work and whatever your role make it part of your job to help keep your premises clean. Consider the following things you are likely to touch during the course of a working day. Be sure to carry with you the materials to enable you to clean the

  • doorbell, keypad, etc.
  • handles, handrails and bannisters – and try not to touch them
  • lift buttons and light switches
  • washrooms and kitchen facilities
  • chairs and desks in communal areas
  • pens or mobile device screens
  • buttons or keypads used to access or leave premises
  • payment terminals and keypads
  • shared tools and equipment

When you go to work, make it common practise that you (and all your colleagues) wash your hands as a matter of course when you arrive. Ask your clients, customers or patients to take the same care. Emphasise that this is part of your efforts to keep them safe.

Adopt the same practises when you visit other people’s premises. I am sure no-one will complain if you are seen cleaning their door knockers!

When will you be allowed to start working?

That is not for us to say; but again, let common sense prevail, but can you –

  • change your business/practise model to fit the current stipulations outlined (if not laid down) by the Government?
  • work from home?
  • work outside?
  • change your working hours?
  • work online?
  • get to work safely? (Can your customers, clients or patients get to you safely?)

If your business includes close contact with clients, patients or customers –

  • provide them access to facilities to enable them to wash their hands or use hand sanitiser as soon as they arrive: to help protect you and them when using the premises
  • remove unnecessary ‘clutter’ from all areas. If a space is free of clutter it will be easier to keep clean.
  • consider the use of PPE by you – and by them.
  • provide pedal operated bins for the disposal of paper towels, sanitising wipes, etc.
  • ensure that any items that need laundering are safely stored and washed at an appropriate temperature.
  • change and dispose of (or wash appropriately) overalls/tunics after customer, client or patient.
  • avoid the use of soft furnishings in any place used by more than one person. If you cannot clean it – don’t use it.

If you and/or your clients are using any PPE, ensure it removed and disposed of in accordance with the government guidelines.

Take care when buying PPE: there are a large number of profiteers out there!

Guidance can also be found on the World Health Organisation and NHS website about hand washing and the use of hand sanitisers and disinfectants. Remember: these help; they are not fool-proof…

Starting the day:

Many businesses are adopting the trend to take the temperature of all staff, contractors and visitors to any site or premises before access is granted. Could you do the same? Perhaps everybody should be encouraged to take their temperature at the beginning of each day and report any increase from normal?

How will you make sure your work zone is clean?

Will you rely on the overnight cleaner or will you, for your own safety, take additional precautions? If you run a business, will you provide your staff and visitors with materials to enable them to clean their work zones?

One of your colleagues, staff members, clients, patients or customers will be carrying the virus – although they may not know it. How will you choose to avoid contamination. It is a choice.

Do you need to create COVID-19 specific policy or to amend your staff handbook or change your contract with your clients, customers or patients.

As your business practices will be changing through necessity to meet the demands caused COVID-19, we recommend that you create a COVID-19-specific policy outlining what these changes are, for the benefit of your staff and both existing and prospective clients.

We would recommend that this policy is made available to everyone and also highlighted on your web-pages, social media pages, etc.

You may wish to include reference to:

  • how you will be monitoring the health of you, your staff and your clients, to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19
  • your cleaning processes – including timing and frequency.
  • use of PPE (if used) by anyone involved
  • the changes to be made in your processes, activities, therapies, etc.
  • the changes in your cancellation policy (if relevant) if meetings, appointments or events are cancelled because of CV-19 or the threat of CV-19.

In some cases, where you are working in close proximity to others (colleagues or customers) it might be appropriate (and possibly necessary) to pre-check their well-being.

The following considerations are probably relevant to everybody – but especially to our community of holistic therapists.

The insurance facility provides particularly wide insurance cover for some 1,600 separately listed treatments ranging from aesthetics to yoga. Included within that are therapies, activities and treatments that

  • require degrees to practise,
  • require years of training
  • require little training
  • require physical contact
  • can be undertaken in open spaces

Furthermore, the insurance is available to anyone who lives and/or works in the EU. The information given below follows our edict of ‘let common sense prevail’.

The various governments across Europe (and across the UK!) are applying rules and regulations appropriate to the demands of the area in which they are based.

Whilst it is clearly important that you comply with legislation appropriate to you, in your area, we hope the following will be of some value.

Back to work for Consultants and Therapists.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it may have been some months since you last saw your client. It is important that you consider your client as a new patient when you next meet with them.

In addition to any pre consultancy/treatment form (that you should ask them to complete, preferably online, the day before the planned appointment) you should now include some additional questions relating to CV-19:

  1. Have you been strictly following the social distancing measures outlined by the government during COVID-19?
  2. Have you, or has anyone you have been in close contact with, shown any signs or symptoms associated with coronavirus
  3. Have you tested positive or had treatment for COVID-19 within the last two weeks?
  4. Please confirm that you will check your temperature the morning of the appointment and advise us by telephone immediately if your temperature is higher than normal.
  5. Are you considered a ‘High Risk’ or ‘Vulnerable’ person?

You might like to add that:

  1. they will not be charged for appointments cancelled due to CV-19 – or the threat there-of
  2. you reserve the right to take the temperatures of anyone attending an appointment.

The COVID-19 questions should be asked on each subsequent appointment.

Relaxing the Rules.

Where therapies and activities can be safely undertaken whilst maintaining ‘Safe Distancing’ some of the cautionary notes made above may not seem relevant.  Please take care.  A yoga claim in a large open space may still have access through gates (touched by everyone); may still have common toilet facilities (used by everyone); may not have facilities for hand washing; may have lockers for storage used by different people throughout the day.

To quote the Government: Stay Alert.

Whenever you go back to work all of us within and the Foyht team wish a happy, successful and uneventful (in terms of COVID-19!) summer.