As Massage practices across the UK are gradually given the go ahead to reopen there are a host of considerations emerging. There is advice abounding on the practicalities of getting back to work, but here I touch on some of the more subtle topics. It is clear that, now more than ever, there is no “one size fits all” and it is essential we are fully bringing our own hopes, fears and needs into the equation.
Nearest and dearest
The nature of our work (close-contact for extended periods in enclosed spaces) means as Massage therapists we are in a high risk category for catching Covid-19. The risk assessments and PPE for your clinic reduces this risk, but cannot completely eliminate it. And the people we are most at risk of passing any infection on to are our nearest and dearest at home.
For therapists who shoulder personal caring responsibilities – especially for people in the vulnerable category – this weighs particularly heavily. On the one hand the need to earn an income to keep food on the table – on the other, the health of family members. In truth this has always been the case, but the potential severity of Covid, along with growing but still limited knowledge about the virus itself, puts this consideration in a proverbial neon flashing sign.
Caring for Carers and the Vulnerable
As we start to intermingle as a society again, one group most in need of the powerful soothing of Touch is carers. Carers, professional or otherwise, are another high risk group for catching Covid. This brings in the ethics of including this group in your practice because they so need your Touch; or excluding this group as a risk mitigation to protect your other clients (and family).
Similarly with those who are particularly vulnerable to Covid – should you include them in your client base to help build and strengthen their immune systems through the power of Touch, or instead exclude them for their own safety? Here excluding them takes away their own power to choose whether they are willing to take the risks involved in seeing you for treatment. But it also protects you from a potentially very distressing situation: a client becoming ill after seeing you for a treatment.
Infection, recovery – and Death
Risk assessments are an essential part of managing this infection – but they will never be able to make giving a Massage treatment entirely safe. Especially as Covid-19 is known to be contagious even when the carrier is showing no symptoms whatsoever. The practicalities of testing and contact with others mean, even with the best risk mitigation in the world, you may pass Covid-19 on to your clients. Some of whom may become very ill and potentially even die. This is a simple fact of the world we are now living in.
People die every day – indeed it is one of the few certainties of life – but the taboo nature of this subject leaves many of us ill-prepared to deal with the grief and, even harder, potential feelings of responsibility. So on the one hand giving treatments could result in the spread of Covid-19 – and on the other, those same treatments could be building essential resilience, and boosting the immune systems of your clients.
These are just a handful of the ethical questions I know therapists are grappling with.
None of them are easy.
None of them have a “right” or a “wrong” answer.
But they each need our consideration so we go back to work with our eyes wide open and facing the realities of a very different world. Most of all, they need discussion and exploration with trusted colleagues – where concerns can be shared, differences respected and support offered. I truly hope that as a community of Touch givers we can maintain a level of compassion and understanding for each other as we each assess what is – and isn’t – OK for us personally in our own practices. Regardless of the bare minimum of the official guidelines.
by Tigger MacGregor, NO HANDS Master
What topics have you been grappling with? How have you been getting support as you navigate these new and uncertain times? Do leave a comment