The Coronavirus will continue to have an impact on our national health system and the services it offers for many weeks and months to come. It will impact on how and when we will all return to work, although it’s fair to say that this is likely to be a new normal rather than going back to the way things were.
Our team are here to assist the wider community through this time. We chose to follow government advice to close down completely at the announcement of the lockdown period and to avoid face- to -face consultations with patients, although we were still able to offer help and advice on the telephone or with televisual methods. This was to ensure the safety of all our staff and patients. During this time we have been able to learn a great deal more about the Coronavirus virus and how it is transmitted; what effects it has on different demographic groups; treatment and guidance protocols etc, and to consider closely what systems we would need to employ in order to safeguard us all at the point at we could reopen to see patients.
The virus that causes COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through droplets generated when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks. These droplets are too heavy to hang in the air and they quickly fall onto floors or surfaces.
The virus is surrounded by a layer of fat, and is broken down by soap, detergents and alcohol based solutions, so it is most effectively combated by hand-washing with soap and water for 20 seconds, or by sanitizing with gel if no soap and water are available. This, in conjunction with frequent cleaning of surfaces, is something we have always done in the practice and now advise all patients to do at home.
We are asking all patients and staff to observe “sneeze hygiene” and cover their faces when coughing or sneezing, followed by thorough hand washing. We now use wipeable pillows, disposable couch covers and couch rolls, and may wear face masks during treatment if it is appropriate.
A number of other changes have also now been implemented in our practices to try and reduce the risk of any of our patients or team members inadvertently being vectors for the transmission of the Covid -19 virus, or indeed, any other form of communicable disease.
These include extra sanitization of equipment, different laundry and hygiene procedures, and closer consideration of who comes into our clinics. Receptionists will sit behind a sneeze guard screen, and patients will be asked to pay by card if possible. All patients will be asked to remove any gloves they may be wearing and sanitise their hands as soon as they enter the building.
As Allied Health Practitioners, we are here to help. We are qualified to assess and treat Musculoskeletal conditions. Practitioners such as Osteopaths and Physiotherapists can play an important role in helping to support patients who may have been unable to have elective surgery for painful conditions (such as hip and knee replacements for arthritis), and we will continue to do this while the NHS gets back to some semblance of normality. It is important for everybody that our staff and clinic can begin to help to address the problems these, and our other patients may have. We can also advise patients whether they need to be referred to hospital or their GP as a matter of urgency or seek other medical health if it transpires that their symptoms have a medical cause or are due to a disease, rather than being a functional or mechanical problem, such as a sprain or joint injury.
Pain and injuries occur whether we are at home or at work, and can all increase with stress and anxiety. Added to the adaptations we are all having to make, such as working from home or home-schooling our children, it’s not surprising that people are now contacting us again to help with treatment for their musculoskeletal aches and pains.
We are aiming to ensure we are only treating patients who are in pain and discomfort, not anybody who is ill. We are also triaging our patients so that we can advise patients who are shielded or in a more vulnerable state (due to other underlying health conditions) whether we consider it appropriate for them to attend our practice for treatment.
Current advice is that the risk of transmission of the Coronavirus is small when receiving osteopathy, rehabilitation physiotherapy or podiatry, provided all patients as practitioners act upon the relevant advice. Both patients and practitioners have a role to play in keeping everybody safe.
We have removed all unnecessary items from desks and floors so that more efficient cleaning can occur, and this is now being undertaken on a more frequent basis. Sanitisers are placed on the building at entrances and in all treatment rooms, as well as in reception, so that they can be used by patients and staff frequently.
All staff have been informed about their responsibilities at the clinic, and have been instructed that if they are in any way feeling unwell, to stay home, and we ask all patients to do the same.
Everybody who visits the clinic is asked to consider their risk with respect to potential exposure to the virus, to ensure that all staff and patients (but especially those who are elderly or immunocompromised) remain healthy.
We may change some of the ways you are treated, for example treatment positioning (ie treating you face down instead of face up), and adapt some of the other treatment techniques so there is less close facial contact.
If you have had known close contact with a person with COVID-19, do not attend your appointment. Please self-isolate for 14 days, as advised by Public Health England.(PHE).
Current government advice is that the rate of transmission has now fallen to below 1 and therefore person-to-person transmission in the community is no longer posing such a threat in healthy people, but this could change rapidly if people do not comply with current Health and Government advice.
If you have any concerns about whether it is safe for you to attend an appointment at our clinic, please contact us by telephone or email in the first instance for advice.