Are you unsure about seeing clients during the lockdown?
We have discussed this with the HSE. There is no formal advice for reflexologists other than the general advice to avoid unnecessary “close social contact”. Close social contact is being in the same room as someone for 2 hours, or within 6 feet for 15 minutes. All reflexology treatments are close social contact.
We are aware closing your practice for two weeks may cause financial difficulty. It is for each reflexologist to determine how much risk they wish to take under these circumstances. However, we would ask you to bear in mind that if you allow clients into your treatment rooms who are infected, you also risk infecting other clients as well as yourself. A number of members have already contacted us to say they have closed their practice for the next 2 weeks, or that all their clients have cancelled.
The government’s intention in triggering the lockdown is to reduce the amount of contact between people to a minimum. The IRI support this initiative wholeheartedly. It is the only step proven to slow the spread of the disease through the community.
We therefore recommend you do not treat any clients during the lockdown (until March 29), but this is not a regulation, and the final decision must be yours.
We recommend the following procedures for reflexologists in order to protect from Coronavirus as much as possible.
We have seen several situations where people did not report that they were at risk, so ASK before you accept bookings.
Do not treat clients suffering from Coronavirus.
Such people are under quarantine. You may not visit their home. They may not leave their house (even to go into their garden).
1. If your client shares a house with someone diagnosed with Coronavirus.
Do not treat them.
Official advice is that they may not spend more than 15 minutes within 2 metres of any other person, or 2 hours in the same room as another person. This means it is impossible to give them a reflexology treatment.
2. If your client has symptoms which might be Coronavirus.
They are to be treated as if they have it. You may not treat them. They should be in the process of getting a medical test. Remember – everyone has to be treated as if they have it until it is PROVEN they are safe.
The symptoms of coronavirus are abnormal body temperature, such as fever and chills, or a lower-than-normal body temperature, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, cough, possibly with mucus or phlegm, chest pain when you cough or breathe, tiredness or fatigue, confusion (particularly in older adults), nausea, vomiting, or diarrhoea.
Official advice is that you must act as if you have been formally diagnosed with Coronavirus until a medical test proves you do not have it.
3. If your client has been to a location which is known to have Coronavirus infections in the previous 2 weeks.
Do not treat them. Such people are supposed to self-isolate for 2 weeks. This means they should leave their house, nor should you visit them..
You can have Coronavirus for 2 weeks before showing any symptoms, and you will be contagious during that time. In other words, you do not have to show symptoms to be contagious.
4. If your client has been in close social contact with someone who shares a house with a person who meets any of the following: a) has coronavirus, b) has returned from a coronavirus region in the previous 2 weeks, c) has symptoms which could be coronavirus
You may not treat them.
Close social contact is 15 minutes within 2 metres, or 2 hours in the same room, sharing utensils, towels, clothes or bedding, or using the same bathroom.
5. If your client is a health worker who has been placed under lock-down.
You may not treat them. They should be staying inside their house, and visitors are not permitted. However, there have been cases of health workers treating lock-down as a holiday and going about their normal business.
6. If your client has a child from a school which has advised students to self-isolate, or is under lock-down
You may not treat them. They should be staying inside their house, and visitors are not permitted.
NOTE ON SAFETY
The Irish government has stated that they need to balance the risks to people against the damage to the economy. This means the official guidelines are not designed to ensure the highest possible level of safety for people, but that the government is prepared to accept a certain level of infection as the price of keeping the economy running.
We are not concerned about the economy – only your safety. While we follow official guidance, our recommendations take stronger precautions than the government. As such, our attitude is that you should not treat someone if there is even a small risk they may be infected. In particular, we do not think anyone should wait until they show symptoms before they take action, because you can be sick and infectious for 1-2 weeks before showing any symptoms. Furthermore, children do not show any symptoms but can infect others.
Coronavirus is a serious form of viral pneumonia. While the overall risk of death from Coronavirus is one in fifty, it is one in eight for people 60 or older, or with a range of conditions, such as diabetes or kidney problems. Even for healthy people, one in five will need hospitalisation in order to survive. Young healthy people are also killed by it, but no one knows why. We want to take the maximum precautions possible to keep you safe.
Wipe all surfaces with antiseptic after every treatment. Pay particular attention to door handles and arm rests. Coronavirus can live for 8-16 hours on surfaces, depending on how much sunlight it gets. Wipes should be treated as medical waste.
You may wish to consider covering your treatment chair or massage table with paper which can be replaced for each client. Treat discarded paper as medical waste.
You may wish to wear disposable gloves for all treatments. There is no evidence the virus can spread through sweat glands, but gloves will reduce your chance of picking up an infection from surfaces.
If clients use your toilets, wipe the doors, sink, taps, toilet seat, and any wall surfaces they may have touched before you allow anyone else to use the toilet.
Wash your hands before and after every treatment. Soap and water is more effective than anti-bacterial wash because anti-bacterial wash damages your skin’s natural resistance. This doesn’t make much difference to ordinary people, but will for you because of the number of times you have to wash your hands each day. You should wash your hands for 20-30 seconds, because the primary benefit of washing is that you rinse the virus off your hands with water. Soap is merely there to reduce the “stickiness” of the virus to your skin.
Wear a face mask. Keep it on whenever you are in the treatment room, even if there are no clients present, as the air may be infected from previous clients.
You may wish to request clients wear a face mask. This is more effective than you doing so because it reduces the risk they may leave an infection behind. If you provide face masks for them, do not share them between clients.
Do not share towels with clients in your bathrooms. Do not let your clients share towels. Ideally, clients should bring their own towels, or you should provide paper for hand drying.
Discard the clothes you wear when treating clients at the end of the day. They could carry the virus for a few hours. See the FICTA advice for treating these clothes.