These are strange times we are living in. In the weeks that have followed the lock down I have been riding an emotional roller coaster. Recently, the dominating emotion is anxiety, and frustration but also hope.
Frustration that I can not treat my clients, but hope that I will open soon and I can help you all again. Mostly, I am feeling anxiety; everything about the way I practiced is going to be different, at least for now……When I return to practice, it will be a completely different experience for both the therapist and client.
My industry is at a turning point, not only in how I provide treatment, but also in determining if it is safe to do so. Currently, our regulatory college, the CMTO is working with other health regulators, and the Government of Ontario to develop guidelines to ensure that we can provide safe care once we are allowed to reopen. This will include extra sanitation and hygiene protocols as well as the implementation of stringent screening guidelines. While the CMTO has not officially issued our new standards of practice, below are some draft guidelines that have been shared with us. These guidelines are in addition to the already vigorous hygiene practices we always use.
What Will a Massage During COVID-19 Be Like for you?
Please note these are just some of the guidelines my college has outlined that are relevant to you, my clients, there are many more that I need to adhere to behind the scenes that I will have to document and you may review soon. Here are some of the guidelines that, when I am able to reopen, you will notice.
Screening before every treatment for COVID-19 symptoms before arrival and again upon arrival with written acknowledgement.
Arrival: waiting outside or in your vehicle until I call you in and/or open the door
Hand Sanitizer: clients must wash/sanitize hands upon arrival and after treatment
PPE: I will be wearing a mask. Clients will have the option to wear a mask. Gloves and other PPE are optional for me and if the client requests I must wear them.
Less appointment availability: I will need to invest more time between clients to properly sanitize the space so please be patient, I will do my best to fit you in safely. I also need to ensure that clients do not come in contact with each other, which means increased time between appointments.
Treatment room may feel sparse and sterile due to removal of fabric furniture and anything else that cannot be wiped clean.
Location: I have decided to work from my home exclusively for the time being. My massage room has a separate client entrance. I can control everything in this environment, guaranteed client separation, cleaning/sanitization etc. which I deem is too difficult in a multi-practitioner clinic at this time.
Washrooms: There is a washroom available, but it is located in a different space from the massage area, so I would like to ask clients to kindly, if possible, avoid using the washroom because doing so means that another space, in addition to the massage room, needs to be disinfected.
So is it Safe or Not?
Given the close contact my job requires, maintaining the recommended 2 meter distance is impossible. It places both therapist and client at an increased risk for acquiring and transmitting the virus. Our only safeguard is PPE, which is ranked as the least effective for reducing exposure.
However, I can tell you that when you receive a massage going forward, it will be “as safe as possible” meaning I will do all that I can to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by implementing the guidelines put forth by my regulatory college. Unfortunately, the safety of getting a massage during this pandemic needs to be based on more than just increasing sanitation protocols and wearing PPE. It also needs to be about you, my clients being diligent in keeping yourself safe, taking all of your own precautions, including social distancing and being truthful on your screening. I understand the need for massage treatment, but ask you to please consider the safety of others when filling in the screening questions. This will help protect myself, my family and other clients who come in.
While I wait for word from our government and regulatory body I will be doing my own risk-assessment, continuing to review research and updates, and completing online training for Health Care Professionals for COVID-19 and PPE use.
I am eager to get back to doing what I love and helping my clients feel better.
I truly hope to see you on the massage table soon!!
Yours in Health,
Kelly Hemphill RMT
Adapted from Jeri Roberts RMT, CMTO and RMTAO