As businesses slowly re-open they must participate in the global effort to stop the spread of COVID-19. But before you can treat your patients you must first take certain steps in compliance with the evolving guidelines from the Government.
You should already be maintaining strict hygiene, health and safety standards as outlined in the code of practice set out by your accreditation body. The Chinese Medical Institute & Register (CMIR UK), which looks after a register of integrative healthcare professionals and accredits AcuMedic’s courses in acupuncture and Chinese Medicine has outlined the practical steps for a ‘Covid Secure’ practice it expects its members to take immediately.
Here are some ideas to consider. The guidelines are constantly changing so it is important that you stay informed and adapt accordingly.
Survey your therapeutic space, waiting areas and common rooms to spot the places where infections can spread.
Record your findings and specify how you are going you tackle those danger areas. Use this advice from the Health and Safety Executive for guidance.[https://www.hse.gov.uk/risk/controlling-risks.htm]
Thoroughly clean your premises before you take in any patients.
Follow the guidance on the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations as you handle professional cleaning products. Use these instructions from the Government as you decontaminate your medical equipment.
As with the risk assessment, the steps you have taken to clean and disinfect your premises must be clearly recorded as part of your daily cleaning procedure and made easy to be follow by all your colleagues.
You will most likely be required to wear medical grade PPE: medical masks, surgical gloves, medical gowns and face shields. Offer your clients disposable shoe covers to wear as they enter the treatment rooms.
To stop the potential spread of infection you will have to dispose of most of the PPE used in your practice, or at least disinfect it in between treatment appointments during 30-minute cleaning sessions.
At the end of each day, disposable PPE should be handled appropriately as non-recyclable waste. Face masks, gloves, aprons etc. must be stored for 72 hours before they can be taken out for collection.
Maintaining social distancing is mandatory for every member of the public and the businesses they visit.
All areas of your premises must feature clear signage to remind patients and staff to maintain the 2 metres of distance in order to minimise the risk of COVID-19 spread.
Be ready to meet your patients at the door so you can let them in and immediately disinfect the door handles, or at the end of the day at the latest.
Your premises must encourage hand washing with sanitisers by making pump dispensers (with supporting signage) available for use in every treatment room, waiting area and staff room. These should be available in addition to facilities that enable the patients to wash their hands, put on disposable shoe covers, masks and gloves.
Follow and share these instructions for proper hand washing.
The cleaning products you must be effective against coronavirus (i.e. with at least 60% alcohol).
A disinfectant should be used to clean your clothes and anything inside the treatment rooms, as well as the waiting areas used by your patients.
You are expected to wash your hands and sanitise your clothes before and after every appointment with your patients.
You have a duty of care to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health of your clients and colleagues. This means that you should officially ask every patient about their Covid status, take their temperature with a contactless thermometer and record it in their file.
If you notice any Covid symptoms then ask the patient to seek advice from the NHS via the 111 number before giving them any treatment.
In addition to the Covid questions, all patients should be asked about allergies they may have to cleaning products, latex and powder.
Use contactless payment technology where possible, encourage your patients to book and pay in advance online, and, handle the paperwork yourself as much as possible to minimise the spread of infection. Ask your patients to bring their own pens to complete any check in and out forms.
Be sure to sanitise the buttons on the payment card machines promptly after each use.
Clinical tools as well as every surface that gets touched should be sterilised at the end of each day. In addition to the door handles, this also includes the hand wash dispensers, taps and toilet facilities.
Any take-home products such as herbal prescriptions should be left for the patients inside their treatment rooms.
The waiting areas, reception and common rooms should be free from unnecessary decorations, cushions and magazines, while water dispensers should also be removed to minimise the spread of infection. Ask your patients to bring their own water
Keep all your therapeutic rooms well-ventillated (ideally through open windows) and shut at all times. Use extractor fans instead of any air-conditioning units.
During every treatment sessions you should ask your client to put lothes and possessions into a container which should then be sterilised between appointments.
Your colleagues should find a separate container for storing their own belongings. This container should be sterilised daily.
To protect your patients from possible infections you must sterilise any treatment beds, tables, face cradles as well as seats in the waiting areas. Replace linens, towels and couch covers with fresh paper bed rolls before each appointment and treatment session.
Follow these guidelines from the NHS when handling laundry (including towels, uniforms and cot bedding sheets which we recommend for their ease of washing and drying), which should be kept inside lidded containers and washed at high temperature.
When a patient is ready to leave your premises they should be escorted to an area designated for hand washing and changing out of any disposable PPE.
The disposed of products should be placed in a covered container and this should be done away from the waiting areas and the rest of staff and patients.
Once you have taken these steps as well as any updated guidance by the Government, don’t forget to update your marketing literature with an assurance that your practice is now COVID SECURE.