It is incredibly sad that at a time when positive touch has never been more needed by those in our local community, we are faced with an unprecedented situation where social distancing has become an imperative to protect the NHS and save lives.
While seeing clients in person is now out of the question, we’re delighted to learn that many of our members are starting to look at ways they can support them remotely, to help boost their physical and mental wellbeing and keep their spirits up during these difficult times.
In this blog item, we just wanted to highlight some of the ways that you can work with clients remotely while still meeting the terms and conditions of your insurance with the FHT…
First, get their permission
Clients are very unlikely to be cross with you for getting in touch to offer support at this time, but be mindful about data protection when you do contact them. You could even use this as an opportunity to refresh their communication preferences. Whether you call, text, write or email your clients, explain that while sadly you can’t provide any hands-on treatment at this time, you would like to continue supporting them remotely, to help them through this challenging time. Ask if they’d be happy for you to contact them through whichever channels it is you intend to use (text, email, Skype, etc) and if they are happy to stay in touch that way.
Offering clients self-help techniques
Most of you will have already shared self-help techniques with your clients to use between treatments – whether it’s how to use an aromatherapy blend safely at home, using a ball for soft tissue work, or working certain reflex points on the hand.
With anyone, you can:
- Email or message them links to some general health and wellbeing tips that they can use safely at home. If you don’t have any of your own, you can share information from reputable websites and organisations. We have recently published a five self-help techniques blog post by Vice President, Mary Dalgleish, which you are free to share – and there will be more self-help techniques to follow from FHT!
- Provide a video, or link through to a video, that gives a short demonstration or some generic self-help tips, that would be safe for anyone to follow. You must be qualified in the therapy you are covering in the video.
With existing clients based in the UK, and within the scope of your qualifications, you can:
- Provide support via video and voice communication apps such as Facetime, Skype or Zoom. This could be an entire therapy session, such as counselling, nutritional advice or mindfulness (which could also be done via the phone). Or it could be bespoke, therapy-specific self-help techniques – from exercises and stretches, to self-massage techniques and pressure point work. What’s key is that any practical tips or exercises are done ‘live’, so that you can guide your client, answer any questions they have and correct them if they are going wrong. Once you are confident that they are executing the moves as they should be, you can always send them a video for reference afterwards. Click here for guidance on how to use Zoom and Skype.
- If you feel that a client might benefit from a product you are insured to make or retail, such as an aromatherapy blend or skincare product, you could potentially post this out to them, or direct them to a reputable supplier online. If the product is being sent out by you, make sure you give them relevant product information and instructions for use in writing, covering everything you would as standard (eg. a list of ingredients, how to use and store the product safely, its use-by date, and so on).
- Offer telephone support, which can be therapy-specific – such as how to use essential oils safely in a diffuser – or just general. Because of the very nature of social distancing, some clients may prefer to simply chat with you than use technology. Never underestimate the power of listening and if it becomes clear that they need more than an empathetic ear, you can signpost them to appropriate support and advice, including this Mind webpage, which is dedicated to supporting mental wellbeing during the coronavirus.
- As you would with any face-to-face treatment, make sure you log everything on the client’s records/notes. This would include the type of support you offered, any products you sent or recommend, aftercare advice, client feedback, verbal consent from the client, and so on.
If you are unsure whether your remote support would be covered for FHT membership and insurance purposes, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for guidance.
A note on the money front…
There are strong indications that the government will shortly be announcing further financial support for the self-employed affected by the coronavirus. While we know that many of you will be providing your clients with remote support free of charge, if you were looking to charge for these services, it may affect your eligibility to apply for certain types of government support.
Stay in touch!
If you are offering remote support to your clients that meets the criteria above, please send us a short write-up – we’d love to share our members’ stories online to inspire others! Please email FHT’s deputy editor, Leanne Sheill, at email@example.com