FHT Statement on coronavirus (COVID-19)

Last updated: 27 March 2020, 08.00

This statement has recently been updated. The areas highlighted indicate which sections have been added or modified since our previous statement (25 March 2020, 14.50)

Dear FHT Members

We are deeply saddened that at a time when positive touch has never been more needed by those in our local community, we are faced with an unprecedented situation where social distancing has become an imperative to protect the health and wellbeing of not just ourselves and our clients, but globally – for humankind.

From the outset, our advice to members has been to adhere to best practice and follow government guidelines, which continue to evolve on a daily basis. As such:

  • on 18 March, we asked you all to restrict your working practices and more specifically, not to provide treatments to clients if you or they were at an increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID-19).
     
  • on 20 March, we asked you all to suspend any treatment that involves face-to-face contact with clients, as soon as possible.

On 23 March, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister announced that everyone is to stay at home unless carrying out one of four essential tasks: shopping for basic necessities, such as food or medicine, but as infrequently as possible; taking one form of exercise a day, for example a run, walk, or cycle – alone or with members of your household; attending to a medical need/ or to care for or help a vulnerable person; or travelling to and from work, but only where this absolutely cannot be done from home.

The aim of these stringent new measures is to help protect the NHS and save lives, and it is clear that therapies that involve close proximity with a client do not fall within any of these four essential tasks.

We know that many of you took the initiative to stop practising some time before this announcement, and we are truly grateful to you for making this difficult but socially responsible decision.

As your professional association, we fully appreciate the implications this will have on both your clients and your therapy practice, but we have now reached a time where everyone needs to take the next vital step to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, which is already having a huge impact on the NHS and our health professionals (to listen to a live radio interview conducted on 20 March with an intensive care consultant, click here).

We also know from the overwhelming number of phone calls, emails and comments on social media we have received over the last week, that you have lots of questions you would like answered. Some of these answers we have provided below - others may take a little longer, while we work with relevant partners, industry stakeholders and authorities to ensure you get the best advice possible (bearing in mind that these organisations are also under pressure at this time).

In order to get information to our members as efficiently and effectively as possible, we have reviewed all of your recent communications to us and will try to cover your key concerns in this statement, rather than respond to these individually. Please revisit this webpage regularly, as we will update it as and when new information and guidance becomes available.

Q. Should I stop practising?

Yes. The Prime Minister’s announcement on 23 March has made it very clear that everyone should stay at home unless carrying out four essential tasks. Providing complementary, holistic beauty and sports therapy treatments in a one-to-one situation does not fall into any of the four essential tasks he outlined.

Q. Can I have a refund on my insurance?

If you are in the 14-day ‘cooling off’ period from the start date of your policy, you can contact us at info@fht.org.uk and request a full refund. However, if you are past the initial 14 days of the policy start date, a refund will not be possible, as per the terms and conditions of your policy. This is to ensure that you have adequate cover in the event of a claim arising from any treatments you may have given since the start date of your policy.

Q. Can I put my FHT membership and insurance on hold until I’m working again?

We are currently in conversation with our insurance underwriters (Hiscox) about how this could work and will contact our members direct with an update, as things progress.

Q. Will my insurance cover me during coronavirus?

The insurance policies available through the FHT (Combined medical malpractice, public and products insurance; Personal accident cover; Business stock and equipment; Homeworker; Salon) do not provide income protection.

If you have any further queries regarding your insurance with the FHT, please contact us on info@fht.org.uk. However, please could we ask you to be patient at this time, as we are receiving a very high volume of queries.

Q. With so many training events and conferences cancelled, do I still need to complete my CPD?

Please remember that classroom-based training is not the only way you can gain CPD and with social distancing measures likely to be a requirement for some time, we anticipate a lot more training providers will start offering courses online.* You can also gain CPD points through other activities you can easily do at home, such as reflective practice, case studies, developing a marketing plan and completing the A&P spirals in International Therapist magazine. For more information please visit fht.org.uk/cpd *Please note that not all of these courses will be recognised for membership and insurance – contact FHT at info@fht.org.uk before you pay for any online training)

Q. Is the FHT lobbying the government to ensure that its self-employed members receive better financial compensation?

The government has already announced a number of provisions for businesses affected by coronavirus, including special grants and loans (for more information see gov.uk/coronavirus). Some members may also be eligible for Universal Credit but this will depend on individual circumstances.

On 26 March, Chancellor Rishi Sunack outlined the government’s Coronavirus Self-employment Income Support Scheme. Some of the key features of this scheme are as follows:

  • The self-employed will be able to access a taxable grant of 80% of their profits, capped at £2,500 per month and based on three years’ tax returns, or one year’s tax return, as a minimum.
     
  • The scheme is open to those who earn under £50,000 a year and the Chancellor has indicated that people will be able to claim the grant even if they are still working (with regards to therapy work, we would interpret this to be work that can be conducted while adhering to social distancing measures)
     
  • The grant will initially be available for three months, in one lump sum, which is unlikely to be available until the beginning of June. This delay is partly because...
     
  • Anyone who missed the tax return deadline for 2018-2019 has four weeks from 26 March 2020 to submit their application at gov.uk/log-in-file-self-assessment-tax-return
     
  • Those who are eligible to the grant will be contacted directly by HMRC.
     
  • Anyone who is newly self-employed and has not completed a tax return from for the period April 2018-April 2019 may not be eligible for this grant and may need to consider other options currently available from the government – see businesssupport.gov.uk
     
  • Those who are struggling financailly are encouraged to apply for Universal Credit and may be eligible to an advanced payment within days, depending on individual circumstances.

For more information visit businesssupport.gov.uk

Q. My clients need my support, now more than ever. How can I take care of them at this time?

We understand that you may be feeling sad or frustrated when social distancing measures mean you are not able to physically treat clients.

As such, we’d like to share some recommendations that we hope you will find helpful:

  • First and foremost, take good care of your own health and wellbeing at this challenging time, including your emotional and mental wellbeing. Find some time each day – even if it’s just 10 minutes - to practice mindfulness, yoga, or a short breathing exercise. Or simply do something you enjoy, whether its baking, taking a long warm bath, exercising or reading a book. 
     
  • If a client tells you that they have symptoms of coronavirus or they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus, please signpost them to reliable information and support (see links below).
     
  • If you are qualified and insured to practise therapies that can be conducted remotely, such as counselling or other types of talking therapy, you could offer these to your clients as a safer alternative to therapies that involve contact.
     
  • Stay in touch with your clients, even if you are not seeing them. If they are vulnerable or lonely, they will really value just having a conversation with someone they have come to know and trust.
     
  • As highlighted further up in this statement, you might be able to offer your clients some tips – over the phone, Skype or email – about how to stay as healthy as possible while at home. This could include some simple self-help techniques and we will be providing online links and guidance to help you do this over the coming weeks.

Compassion and acts of kindness are key during this challenging time to support those in our local community, and we know this is something our members are perfect at providing, even remotely. Just please remember to be compassionate to yourselves, too.

Q. As things are constantly changing, how can I keep up to date?

We will be continually reviewing and updating the content of this webpage, so please keep coming back and checking it on a regular basis. However, as things are changing on a daily basis, we would strongly recommend that you keep an eye on the latest information provided by the government and other authorities:

Q. Do you have any other information I might find helpful?

We will be sending our members special e-newsletters, offering information that we hope will be useful for both you and your clients, so please keep an eye on our blog (fht.org.uk/blog) and social media platforms. Here are some items we have published recently that you might find helpful:

Q. If I have other queries, how can I get in touch?

As we are sure you will appreciate, the FHT, its staff and board will also need to take necessary measures to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus. This may mean that certain services will be impacted, including our ability to answer your queries or take payments over the phone (please note membership renewals and new applications can still be processed online).

As such, we would recommend that you start contacting us by email at info@fht.org.uk and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

We will keep members notified if there are any services we are temporarily unable to provide, including telephone support.

We thank you in advance for your patience and understanding. On behalf of everyone at the FHT, we wish you continued good health at this challenging time.

Christopher

Christopher Byrne,
President of FHT