How I’m working during the COVID-19 pandemic

We face a unique challenge with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and it feels so important during these times to stay connected. Death and dying feel so much more present and there is so much fear about touch and human contact.

How I am responding…

I want to continue to support my clients and those who are looking for support. This has meant some changes to how I work and all initial consultations will take place online or on the telephone.

Current work
 
I am currently seeing clients face to face, online or by telephone and as we start to move towards more face to face work, I will continue to offer online and telephone sessions.

Considerations for returning face to face

As restrictions start to ease across the country and vaccinations are rolled out, it feels important to let you know about changes moving forward. I have now had my second vaccination, and whilst that does not mean I am risk free in terms of catching or carrying COVID-19, for current clients, it does mean we can review how we work together. Those who have been vaccinated are still advised to continue to follow all of the government guidance.

The most up-to-date information with regard to COVID-19 is available here: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus and https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

The Eco Offices where I am based, have completed a risk assessment of the building and a copy of this is available here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1KTT2NKrOK8MUUCGmaMY7uU8DWEAD-VeO/

What will happen if I arrange a face to face appointment?

Before you arrive:

Please consider the following when deciding whether to attend your appointment.

  • Have you experienced the following symptoms:
    • a high temperature
    • a new and continuous cough
    • a loss or change to sense of smell or taste
  • Have you travelled overseas?
  • Have you come into contact with someone who has COVID-19?

As these factors place you at high risk of having COVID-19, you are asked not to attend your appointment and you will not have to pay for your session even if you notify me within 24 hours of the appointment. Please follow NHS guidelines about what you need to do next.

You may want to consider the journey to the Eco Offices and if this places you at additional risk. There are high risk groups who are more at risk of catching COVID-19, and if you fall into a high risk group, it is worth considering this versus the benefits gained from meeting in person.

Face to face working is offered where clients feel safe enough regarding the risks to themselves and others. It may also be a consideration where:

  • Technology presents too much of an obstacle to working online
  • Emotional and mental distress is severe e.g. working with trauma or suicidal feelings
  • Privacy and a suitable environment in which to work therapeutically is difficult
  • Clients feel the benefits of working face to face outweigh continued online working

Also for consideration is that returning to working face to face presents the risk of having sessions interrupted if further changes relating to the pandemic mean that either the Eco Offices has to close or if we enter another period of lockdown.

In preparation:

I will take a rapid lateral flow home test the day before our appointment and get in touch if this is positive to make alternative arrangements. I am also using the NHS COVID-19 app and following the same guidelines around symptoms and coming into contact with others who have COVID-19. All face to face appointments are made with the caveat that we may need to move to an online appointment or cancel if either of us become infected or need to self-isolate.

Please bring your own tissues and drink as these will not be offered to you.

You will need to wear a mask indoors in communal spaces at the Eco Offices so please bring one with you (this is in line with government guidelines regarding wearing a mask in enclosed spaces).

On arrival:

It is possible that we will not maintain the recommended 2 metres at the entrance, although at the door and corridor leading to the room it is well ventilated. I will wear a face mask in communal spaces. You will come in through the side door to minimise the possibility of coming into contact with other practitioners or clients using the space.

Please call me when you arrive and I will collect you at the side gate (to the left of the building) – opening this for you so that you do not need to come into contact with the gate/door handles. I will take you to our room and you will be asked to use hand gel and there are facilities for handwashing if hand gel cannot be used.

Through the session:

Our seats will be two metres apart.

Both windows will be open a crack to ensure the room is ventilated with cross flow. We will discuss opening the windows more fully and if we open the windows widely, this means that as people move past the windows, they may overhear parts of our conversation.

We will also discuss continuing to wear our masks at the start of the session and Government guidance permits taking off face masks where facial expressions are used to communicate. If you choose to wear a mask during our session, lack of visibility of your face may make it more difficult to communicate.

Tissues are to be used when coughing or sneezing and placed in the foot bin before washing hands. Whilst toilets are still available for use during your visit, you are requested to clean surfaces before and after use. Paper towels and a hand dryer are provided.

After the session:

If someone is identified as having COVID-19 during their visit to the Eco Offices, anyone who was in the building at the same time or following the appointment (until a deep clean has occurred) will be notified as being at risk. If you have checked in using the NHS COVID-19 app, and the person infected is also using this, you will be notified automatically.

If you find out that you have had COVID-19 during the time you came for an appointment, or came into contact with someone before your appointment (less than two weeks) who later finds out they have COVID-19, please get in touch so that we can make sure that the Eco Offices has a deep clean.

The guidelines state that there is an NHS Test and Trace service, so if at some point in the future I were to become infected, I may be asked by the NHS to produce a list of people I have had contact with as well as contact details – this may then mean you are contacted by them and you can find out more about that here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/nhs-test-and-trace-how-it-works

Please note that this guidance relates to working face to face in the Eco Offices. Additional guidance is provided about face to face outdoor therapy at https://jamiefearn.co.uk/outdoors.

If you have any questions or concerns about working face to face, please do let me know and we can work things out together.

Notes

If you have concerns about using the NHS COVID-19 app and your privacy, you can see the privacy policy here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/nhs-covid-19-app-privacy-information/nhs-covid-19-app-privacy-notice

You can also find out more information about how the risk algorithms for the app work here: https://covid19.nhs.uk/risk-scoring-algorithm.html