COVID-19 Return to work guidance

Guidance for UK Practitioners

Countries are coming out of lockdown at differing speeds. This guidance is generic and should be actioned when your country’s government indicate it is safe for you to return to practice. These guidelines should be used in conjunction with any guidelines produced by the government of the country in which you practice. In England, the government guidance may be found here: Close contact services: Guidance for keeping workers and clients safe in close contact services

As an employee or volunteer, you may also need to follow guidance and requirements applied by the company or organisation for which you work.

Assessing Risk

In advance of your return to work, you must evaluate all of your work practices and carry out a risk assessment, relevant to COVID-19. The HSE website provides detailed advice and a risk assessment template.

Only if you employ 5 or more people are you required to keep a written record of your risk assessment. FNTP recommend that you document your assessment and any implementations relating to COVID-19.

The risk assessment may need to be updated if the government issues new instruction or information or changes existing guidance.

Preparing your work environment

De-clutter your working environment by removing any items which are not essential. Minimise the use of soft furnishings such as rugs, cushions and material covered chairs.

Ensure sanitiser is easily and obviously accessible to clients as they enter the building and any treatment area.  It is recommended to use non-contact sanitiser dispensing equipment such as foot-operated dispensers.

Mobile practitioners need to consider how to minimise the risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19 in the various locations and premises in which you are working.  Keep sanitiser on your person and form a habit of using it on a regular basis.  Sanitise as you enter and as you leave each location.

Maintain physical distance

All effort should be made to maintain physical distancing in line with current government guidelines. These requirements are most difficult to maintain when the client(s) are arriving or leaving.  You should ensure that clients are clearly instructed where to stand and how to approach treatment rooms or areas to maintain appropriate distance.

Clients should not be kept in waiting rooms or communal areas prior to treatment but instead should be encouraged to arrive on time and to telephone on approach.

Cleaning and Sanitising

As part of your standard practice you will be maintaining your personal hygiene and cleaning your working environment. This guidance is in addition to your standard hygiene protocols.   Detailed guidance on appropriate hand washing and some basic guidance on how to avoid spreading COVID-19 is available from the NHS.

It is a good idea to create a reference list of areas and items to clean

In addition to your usual cleaning routine your COVID-19 cleaning list may include such things as:

  • Bell pushes and entry buzzers.
  • Door handles, knockers, and push plates.
  • Light switches, pull-cords, and buttons.
  • Banisters, supports, and handrails.
  • Chairs, desks, and ledges.
  • Light fittings and covers.
  • Public facing device screens and payment terminals.
  • Pens, pencils, pads, and clipboards.
  • If you are using contact sanitiser dispensers clean the plungers or handles

You may wish to inform your clients of the detailed cleaning routine in use.

Wear disposable gloves when cleaning and dispose of these appropriately.

Solid surfaces should be wiped down with disinfectant.

Fabric items which cannot be removed (e.g. fixed chair cushions) should were possible be covered in a non-porous material which can be disinfected

When not to see clients

If you are contacted by  NHS Test and Trace service and advised that you have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, you must follow NHS guidance and stop seeing clients.

Defer seeing clients if you (or a member of your household or your support bubble) has symptoms of COVID-19, you must self-isolate and visit NHS 111 online coronavirus service, which will provide advice and assist you get a test if one is required.

If you are working from home and are well but a member of your household or your support bubble has symptoms of COVID-19 or has tested positive, you must stop seeing clients.

Client Engagement

Contact each client 24 hours before their appointment to confirm their COVID-19 status. Your assessment questions should include:

  • Do you currently have COVID-19 or any symptoms of COVID-19?
  • Have you had COVID-19?
  • Does anyone in your household or support bubble have COVID-19 or symptoms of COVID-19?
  • Have you been in close contact with anyone else in the past 14 days who has symptoms of COVID-19 or been contacted by the NHS Test and Trace service and told to self-isolate?

Request that your client attends their appointment alone where possible.

Request all clients to use hand sanitiser on entry and on exit.  Provide a foot-operated non-contact sanitiser dispenser if possible.

Provide tissues which your client can easily access and provide a foot operated pedal-bin for disposal after use.

On arrival check that the client has no symptoms of COVID-19.

If the client displays or reports symptoms you believe may be those of COVID-19, do not continue the appointment but instead ask them to return home and use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service.

Use contactless or online payment facilities where possible.

If you are accepting cash payments wash or sanitise your hands after handling the cash.

Issued 13th July 2020