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Covid-19 (Coronavirus) Update for UK Practitioners

Posted by Lauren at 09:51 on 3 Jul 2020


Firstly, the International Federation of Aromatherapists (IFA) would like to express their sincere understanding for the huge level of concern regarding the Coronavirus (COVID 19) and frustration surrounding a return to work date. Please be assured that we are doing as much as possible to support our members at this time and doing all we can to help get aromatherapists back to work. As guidance is changing on a daily basis, we will be updating this page on a regular basis so please check it periodically.

Returning to work status

As you will be aware, the UK Government has recently updated its directions regarding Covid-19 and produced a recovery strategy for England, called Our Plan to Rebuild.  Unfortunately, however, personal therapies are still NOT permitted to return to work in England, Scotland and Wales until further notice.  

The Northern Ireland Executive announced on 18 June that businesses involving close personal contact can provisionally reopen on 06 July provided you maintain the required distancing measures and have the requisite infection controls in place and follow additional advice for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Preparing to return to work

We urge you to use this time to ensure your clinic meets the requisite infection controls in anticipation of a return to work date.

Once a return to work date is confirmed, the IFA's Alan Boswell insurance policy (for members who take out their policy) has stated it is in force and will cover you as long as:

  • Government guidelines are followed, and you have the requisite infection control procedures in place (see detailed guidance in the member’s area).
  • provision must be undertaken for the safety of the therapist and your client following the Government guidelines on PPE
  • and where possible, social distancing for any other clients, family or any persons not involved in the therapy on the premises.

If you are insured by another provider, we recommend you check with your policy holder.

Please note that the requirements slightly differentiate between each council borough so therapists must check with their local borough.

In preparation of a ‘return to work date’, the IFA have put in place general guidance on how members can resume practice with maximum safety, which will need to be viewed alongside your individual professional insurance policy before returning to work and can be downloaded in the member’s area.

What paperwork will I need?

You will need to have completed a risk assessment of the treatment area, premises etc (downloadable in the members area). 

We are also encouraging members to ask clients to sign a disclaimer saying they and their family members are not showing any signs of COVID-19, also downloadable in the member's area.

COV19 Risk Assessment Certificate Courses

We understand a lot of you have been asking about courses that will provide you with a certificate on completion to display in your place of work. Please see below examples of free online courses you can take that provide a certificate in preparation:

Lobbying Efforts

We once again wrote to the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, urging the need for clarity as to when therapists can return to work and for the date to be sooner rather than later. We have also explained the very important contribution aromatherapists can make to support the health and wellbeing of the public and will continue to pursue clarity on this issue and advise as soon as we receive a response.

We do understand that the Government is being careful in order to protect us all, but we also appreciate how frustrating it is for aromatherapists, who already have stringent health and safety protocols in place to ensure the safety of their clients, especially when other contact practices have been allowed to resume, which we have made clear at the highest level.

In addition, as part of the PSA Collaborative working group a letter was sent to the UK, Welsh, Irish and Scottish Government health departments about the important role practitioners on PSA Accredited Registers can make during the current pandemic. Essentially, the PSA has pointed out that:

  • PSA accredited practitioners form a key component of the wider public health workforce, with some of them already recognised as key workers
  • using the services of all practitioners on Accredited Registers might help mitigate the adverse impact of isolation on the mental and physical wellbeing of the nation, and the Government might wish to consider recognising all of them as key workers.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) responded and suggested that practitioners on PSA Accredited Registers, who are not already employed by the NHS, and who wish to offer their valuable skills and experience to support the COVID-19 response, could apply via the NHS Rapid Response scheme. This scheme is recruiting registered and unregistered healthcare workers, as well as a range of key roles in non-clinical areas, to help deliver essential patient care. Self-employed workers, who can evidence that they have worked as a company that has provided appropriate healthcare services, should be able to register to work PAYE via Rapid Response (subject to any required additional checks). The DHSC also suggested that professionals could try contacting their local NHS employers or local councils directly to offer their services. Reference was made to the availability of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the COVID-19 Self-employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS). There was no specific reference to the suggestion that practitioners on Accredited Registers should be categorised as key workers and unfortunately aromatherapists do not fall under the category of healthcare practitioner as aromatherapy is not a statutory regulated profession.  The Scottish, Northern Ireland and Welsh administrations, as of yet have not yet responded.

What can you do?

Write to your MP
Whilst we are writing to the powers that be directly, lobbying for a return to work date sooner rather than later, we also need to enlist your help to lobby your own local MP’s to up the momentum. As we believe the more local MP’s asking for action the more likely we will receive a positive outcome. Your MP works for you and will only react to requests from their constituents and so we cannot take action through this route on your behalf. We have therefore prepared a template for you to send to your MP which can be found in the members area. To find the email address of your local MP please input your postcode here:  https://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/

Sign Petition
Sign the petition - Let complementary health workers back to work: government policy not risk or science based

Complete Survey
Complete the Survey for BEIS (Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy: UK GOV) regarding the impact the subsequent lockdown has had on your business.

Looking Ahead

Although it may not feel like it there were also some positives from last week’s announcement:

  • The Covid-19 alert level has been downgraded from 4 to 3 which means there can be gradual easing of restrictions as the level of Covid cases have significantly dropped.
  • The Government are keen to get people back to work as soon as they are sure it is safe to do so. The IFA already have a Return to Work Strategy and Risk Assessment in place, so our therapists are prepared to safely return to work once given the green light (these will be under constant review where government guidance requires changes to our advice).
  • From the 4th of July people will be allowed into other people’s homes, and people will be allowed into our homes which paves the way for aromatherapists return to work.

We will continue to monitor further Government announcements closely to keep you informed of developments.

Aromatherapists are fortunate to be able to offer awonderful therapy, without depending completely on massage, in the form of product(s) and holistic self-care advice. Therapists are creative and resilient people, and we are sure that your services will be needed more than ever once restrictions begin to ease.

Please see link for more information


Financial Assistance

There will obviously be concerns about financial health, so for assistance, please view the support available to businesses impacted by COVID-19: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses

The Self-Employed Income Support Scheme provides a taxable grant of 80% of average monthly profits (calculated from profits from the last 3 years) up to a cap of £2,500 a month to help those whose livelihoods have been affected by the coronavirus outbreak. For more details please visit: https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/self-employment-income-support-scheme/

HMRC have launched a tax helpline to help businesses concerned about paying their tax - information can be found here. The telephone number is 0800 0159 559. Companies House have also produced guidance if Coronavirus (COVID-19) has affected your company and you need more time to file your accounts - for this information please click here. Lastly, for information about claiming benefits click here.

Alan Boswell Insurance also provide a lot of information which can be found here. 

Continual Professional Development (CPD) Points

We do understand that members are concerned about meeting the continual professional development criteria for practitioners during the pandemic and would urge practitioners to visit the member's area where you can find various free resources, courses and other information relating to how you can gain CPD points to continue to meet the requirements. We also remind practitioners to keep their CPD logs up to date and please do contact us if you unsure if an activity constitutes as CPD. 

We continue to wish you and your clients all the best and hope that these measures will be over soon.