Our job as massage therapists is the opposite of social distancing. Here we are, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, physically separated from our clients. We are all feeling a little lost without the one thing most of us feel called to do. Touch.
We are all a little nervous and frustrated with government websites right now. However, I really believe this pause in our businesses can be used for good. I will get to that soon.
At this time, Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases are still rising in Florida. I expect this new way of life to continue for weeks to come. Our patience to open back up is critical to public health. While I am not an expert on COVID-19, I hope to provide you with some information to help you navigate through this unique situation.
COVID-19 and Massage Licenses
Can massage therapists still work? You may still be asking if Executive Order 20-72 applies to all massage therapy, massage in chiropractic settings, or massage in a client’s home. Massage therapy is not specifically mentioned in the order, but the below section seems awfully clear to me on what my actions should be as someone who is considered a health care practitioner in Florida.
I hereby employ the following measures and direct as follows: Pursuant to section 252.36(7), Florida Statutes, A. All hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, office surgery centers, dental, orthodontic and endodontic offices, and other health care practitioners’ offices in the State of Florida are prohibited from providing any medically unnecessary, non-urgent or non-emergency procedure or surgery which, if delayed, does not place a patient’s immediate health, safety, or wellbeing at risk, or will, if delayed, not contribute to the worsening of a serious or life-threatening medical condition. Accordingly, all health care practitioners licensed in the State of Florida, including dentists, shall immediately cease performing these elective services.
I will not interpret the Order, but I have seen emails from the board office and the FSMTA that confirm my thoughts on how this applies to massage therapy licenses.
When Does the Executive Order Expire?
EO 20-72 is set to expire on May 8th. It could be extended, it could be ended early.
Currently, the 30-day stay at home order for Florida residents is set to expire on April 30th, unless extended.
How Can I Replace Lost Income?
For many, the first thing I thought of (after checking our toilet paper stock) was income. Money is an anxiety trigger for many. Not only do we have to work daily to evade a disease, but we also have to gather income tax documents and navigate overcrowded government websites.
Here are the main two websites you can look at for replacing income during this time. Thankfully, self-employed massage therapists and those that receive 1099 forms can apply for some benefits.
Florida worked up over the unemployment website. Many bad words have been used to describe this website and process. However, they said they have simplified this website in recent days. Hopefully, that is true.
If you are a spa owner with employees or self-employed, look at the CARES Act. The CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) Payroll Protection Program (PPP) has been established to help employers and businesses replace income during this time and avoid future layoffs.
Stimulus checks are rumored to be issued soon for those that qualify. Here is more information about how and when you should expect your check.
What You Can Do During This Time
You don’t need to come out of isolation with a litany of new skills. This isn’t a vacation. However, chances are, we will never experience something like this pause in our work and personal lives again. Learn something new if you feel like it, fail at something (like I did at bread-making), but take care of yourself. You can continue to look after and others, including clients, but in different ways.
Here are some things you and I can do.
If you did not care for Tiger King, or you have rewatched The Office for the twentieth time, you may be interested in watching videos on massage techniques. A few of my favorites are Massage Sloth and Rebel Massage. Leave me a comment below with massage videos you enjoy. I am always looking for more to watch.
Stay in Contact
You are not banned from any contact with clients. You can maintain physical distance and still connect with them. Yes, physical contact isn’t the same massage, but it is better than social isolation some clients are dealing with right now.
You don’t have to be silent on your Facebook, Instagram, or email marketing newsletter. There are many professional ways to communicate with clients. You may post videos on self-care massage techniques you use at home, or just send a card. A person they associate with calm feelings may be what they need.
Complete Online Continuing Education
Believe it or not, you do not have to panic and complete your continuing education credits on August 31st of each odd year. You actually can complete them ahead of time. Doing this will make August 2021 less stressful.
Joking aside, if you are looking to complete your mandatory see courses, we are offering 50% off all courses this month. For example, the package with all three required courses (Laws and Rules Update, Professional Ethics, and Prevention of Medical Errors) is $15. You can see all courses here.
Make Office or Business Updates
If you do not have a website, use email marketing, or have a Facebook page for your business because you have been busy -maybe this is the time to start.
Review your website, business page, or Google business page. Does it need to be updated? Could you add online scheduling, update your “About” page, or add any new photos.
How does your inventory and supply closet look? Does your office need new music, sheets, towels, facerest covers, paint, or new decor?
Learn About COVID-19 and Massage
It looks like COVID-19 will be around our world for a while. It is our professional responsibility to learn about it. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- How will I greet clients? Handshaking may be a thing of the past.
- Do I know the symptoms of COVID-19?
- Am I aware that many (many!) of those with COVID-19 are asymptomatic?
- How will I screen clients for COVID-19?
- Will I wear a mask?
- How will I protect clients in immune issues?
- Am I prepared to self-isolate if exposed?
- How will I contact clients if I expose them?
- What will I use to clean my office between clients? What will I do if stores are still out of towels and disinfectants?
Massage & Bodywork Magazine’s new issue is all about massage therapy and COVID-19. It is free if you provide your email address.
Dust off your Trail Guide to the Body and review your origin, insertion, actions, and nerves.
If you did not see my post on Facebook, the first case of COVID-19 in Florida was a Tampa-based massage therapist who had traveled to Italy. She shared her unique experience here.
Recognize That Crisis-Schooling Is Different
From someone that has always homeschooled her kids, what you are being asked to do is something much different. You are not homeschooling, you are crisis-schooling. Crisis-schooling is harder. Our homeschooled kids get to go out to museums, shopping, play in the parks, and lots of other things none of us get to do right now. There is absolutely no need to recreate the school day at home. Take it easy on yourself. Trust me, they are learning. Just differently.
We have painted our windows faux stained glass, tried lots of new recipes, made care packages for great grandparents, cleaned out closets, started lettuce plants, built Rube Goldberg machines, folded flexagons, and had home spa days.
Your kids will likely remember this time for the rest of their lives. Take some time to talk about and document it. Here are a couple of time capsule ideas:
Practice Self Care
Take care of yourself. As massage therapists, our bodies are used to movement. Get out those self-care massage tools, stretch, and go for walks. You need to be healthy when it is time to go back to work.
Do No Harm
This seems to be a common problem right now. Don’t feel obligated when a client calls or texts you to ask if you can just come over to their house for “just one massage” or “secret massage appointment”. Explain seriousness of you breaking an executive order and the possibility of losing your license as well as your commitment to public health as a health care practitioner.
Our closing our businesses was to protect public health. And that is our most important job right now.
Make a Post-Quarrentene List
Which live continuing education courses you want to take? It is hard to look ahead when you have no, or very little income coming in, but your massage practice will always benefit from your continued learning and growing. I am sure many people have “get a massage” high on their list. I know I do!
I’ve also made a list of local places to eat, massage places I will visit, day trips I want to take. Supporting local businesses will be a priority of mine.
Wash Your Hands (Maybe Better Than Before?)
While we all wash our hands before a massage, have we been doing it correctly? I admit, the videos they put out during this time made me realize I was missing some areas. These are the best videos I have seen:
When We Open
I am really looking forward to that day.
How will we know it is time to open? Right now, the best thing I can think of to do is to listen to the advice from the Department of Health and CDC about what actions should be taken as we lessen social distancing and open up businesses.
Here is the Florida Department of Health COVID-19 website.
Remember, just because you can open, does not mean you should. There were massage therapists that stayed open far too long at the beginning of this pandemic.
Employers, for the love(!), listen to your massage therapists when they say that they should not be practicing massage. They are health professionals. If someone shows up at your massage establishment and demands a massage and your massage therapist says that it is not advised right now, back your massage therapist up and listen to them.
Remember: Your Clients Will Be Different
It will be a delicate balance at first with your clients. None of us are the same people we were a few weeks ago. Some will crave touch, others will have new fears about touch and closeness. And a few will be somewhere in between. There may be new anxieties, traumas, and phobias. Meet your clients where they are and respect the new boundaries they may have developed.
Continue to Take Care of Others
Take care of your family, neighbors, and those you see struggling right now. Massage therapists are usually exceptionally good at that.
I would love to hear what you are up to during this time off. Whether you are sewing masks, buying food for single parents, taking walks, teaching virtual yoga, or picking up groceries for neighbors that cannot go out. Let me know below.
Looking for more information on COVID-19 and Massage in Florida?
Florida Department of Health Resources