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Insurance and infection control in a spa environment

infection control Jul 09, 2021
infection control

The question of infection control in a spa environment came under an intense spotlight during the pandemic. It led therapists across the country to feel increasingly anxious about how they take care of themselves as well as their clients when it comes to mitigating risk.

For many, the fear was almost paralysing, both in terms of professional liabilities as well as personal ethics. At Jennifer Young, we did a lot of work to educate around cross infection control at that time, as well as highlighting where therapists already have the tools to cope from their existing training in risk management.

One key component is understanding the position and expectations of insurers. Here we look at some of the common questions asked by therapists around insurance and infection control in a spa environment.

What training do you need to get insurance as a therapist?

The training you have to become a therapist and the training you have to treat vulnerable clients are different. To gain insurance as a therapist you need to have a professional qualification and your insurer will cover you to the level that you have achieved, assuming you follow the appropriate protocols and precautionary measures. For example, using consultation forms to understand a client’s personal risks.

However, if you want to treat vulnerable clients, like someone who has been diagnosed with cancer, then you must have adequate and appropriate, accredited training that allows you to do manage any additional risk. If you don’t, then you may find that your insurance policy is invalid.

What does insurance cover when it comes to infection and infection control?

This will depend on your policy. However, most will include an element of public liability. Our trusted insurer, Alison Livings from Holistic Insurance Services said that their policy does include disease under bodily injury, so provided a therapist follows appropriate guidelines and protocols, their policy should cover you. You should check the details with your insurer, however.

What do I need to do to comply with insurance?

You are required to complete risk assessments to help control infection. This is a result of the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH) - or the law that requires employers to control substances that are hazardous to health. This has been around for decades, and you will have heard it commonly referred to as a risk assessment, from which you then make decisions about appropriate ways to proceed with your treatment. We spoke about this at length in our Guide to Cross Infection Control earlier this year, and it’s a key part of our training as well.

Does insurance cover you for Covid-19?

Much like Alison’s point above, as a disease, Covid-19 would be covered under bodily injury. In this instance, therapists should make sure that in addition to standard protocols, they are aware of and follow the most up to date government guidelines and that the client doesn’t have any symptoms when they arrive. In that case, if a client claims they caught Covid-19 at your spa or salon, it should be covered. However, the onus is on the client to prove that’s where they got it.

Does a disclaimer mean you don’t need insurance?

Disclaimers do not help you if a problem should occur. You can ask for a client to provide informed consent, which requires them to have an understanding of the treatment process for it to be valid. This may include having a signed note from their doctor, for example if someone has a health issue that you are concerned about, but you should not rely on disclaimers to cover you under all eventualities.

Are all insurers the same?

No. Insurance has been one of the biggest inhibitors in enabling therapists to treat cancer patients, and many are still not able to provide that kind of cover. That’s why Alison is so wonderful. We worked with her to make sure that therapists could be covered for treating cancer patients, and it’s her ability to think differently that makes her so special. She likes to have a ‘can do’ attitude and doesn’t like to take ‘no' for an answer!

Jennifer Young is the author of 16 accredited oncology touch therapy qualifications, and has created protocols and products that allow therapists to gain the insurance, knowledge and confidence they need to treat vulnerable clients responsibly.

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