It’s starting to look as though the coronavirus pandemic may be beginning to abate and I am looking forward, like you, to getting back to ‘normal’, whatever that may mean, as soon as is sensible.
But we are not in the clear yet and so it’s vital that we don’t assume we can just go back to the way we were. As other countries have sadly been demonstrating, it seems there’s a very real risk of a second wave of the virus as restrictions are slowly lifted.
That’s why I think it would be irresponsible for any business that involves close physical contact to open its doors again too soon, other than for medical emergencies. This is especially important in central London, where there’s the added risk for both therapists and patients travelling on public transport. And that’s not just my view – the current Chartered Society of Physiotherapy advice is that “all initial contact and triage assessment should be conducted via remote means” and that if we are going to do anything other than online treatment, “the clinician must be able to justify that the benefits of seeing a patient face to face are demonstrably greater than the risks of infection transmission” and that you and I have discussed the possible risks.
However, this is marginally less strict than last week’s guidelines, which said the only possible reason for seeing a patient face to face was if it would prevent them from going to A&E! So there is a slightly stronger glimmer of light at the end of the coronavirus tunnel, for the very small number of patients who would benefit most from hands-on treatment.
Therefore, while I’m not yet looking at reopening my clinic due to the public transport risk, from next week (after the bank holiday) I will start to make myself available for a (very) restricted number of home visit sessions, while being very cautious about the risks.
My criteria for home visits:
- You must have had at least one online session first, and have symptoms that we cannot resolve through remote treatment.
- You must not be self-isolating (this means that you can’t be within 2 weeks of symptoms or exposure) and there must be nobody else staying in your house who is self-isolating.
- We must both be satisfied that the potential benefit of hands-on treatment outweighs the risk.
- You must respond to a call or text message on the morning of the appointment to confirm that this is still the case – if you don’t respond, then I won’t set off.
- Finally, if you develop symptoms within 1 week of the session then you must let me know ASAP so that I can start self-isolating and inform anyone else I’ve seen.
How home visits will work in practice:
- You and I will book the appointment together, probably during an online treatment session – you won’t be able to book home visits through my admin team, because you and I need to have had the discussion about risks together and I need to document it.
- My team or I will contact you in the morning before I leave home, and will check that you have still had no known exposure to anyone with coronavirus.
- I will drive to your house with my treatment couch. You will need to provide a space where I can set up the couch and have space to move around it.
- I will put on a fluid resistant mask outside your house and then wear it throughout the session. I will expect you to wear one too (I can provide a suitable mask if you don’t have one).
- I will wash and disinfect my hands after setting up the couch and will then also wear gloves and disposable apron.
- I will disinfect the couch when I arrive and when I leave, and will not remove my mask, gloves or apron until I am outside your house.
How much will it cost?
- During the lockdown, I will not charge extra for home visits compared to a clinic visit, so a one-hour home visit will cost £300, the same as a clinic session.
- If you would like a longer session then this can be arranged. Please bear in mind though that if you usually pay for the session via health insurance, you will need to pay the difference yourself if you would like a longer session. I can provide a receipt if you would like to try to claim any further costs back from your insurers.
If you have any questions, please drop me a line and ask. But as you can see from the above, online physio really is much easier for everyone, so if we can keep working together virtually, and make a success of it, then at this stage I think that’s still very much the way to go!