What to Expect from Your Massage Therapy Appointment During the COVID-19 Pandemic
As Ontario begins to reopen and restart more businesses, RMTs are now able to gradually resume providing massage therapy treatments. As someone who has accessed massage therapy treatments in the past and hopes to access them in the future, you may be wondering what you can expect from a massage therapy treatment in the midst of a pandemic. We hope that this guideline will help you feel safer and more confident as you access massage therapy care during this unprecedented time.
Please be aware that just because RMTs can reopen, it does not mean your RMT will be reopening immediately. Many RMTs are still working on fulfilling all of the new requirements that they need to fulfil to keep you safe, and will only reopen once they have the necessary personal protective equipment and have implemented the necessary cleaning and sanitation procedures. Other RMTs will be delaying reopening due to a variety of personal concerns. This is intended to give you an idea of what to expect once your RMT does reopen.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns, the best thing to do is to contact your massage therapist directly.
Before Your appointment
There will be some changes to the way appointments are scheduled and some new procedures for arriving to your appointment to keep you safe.
Before you arrive for a massage therapy appointment:
- Be patient and assess your own needs. RMTs are required to prioritize patients with more essential/urgent care needs.
- Ensure you arrive alone, and as close to your appointment time as possible. If you are unable to arrive alone, the person accompanying you will be screened, asked to provide their name and phone number for contact tracing purposes, and to wear a cloth or disposable mask.
- You may be asked to wait outside or in your car until your RMT is ready to begin your treatment.
- You will be virtually screened for your risk of COVID-19. This will likely be arranged during or soon after you book your appointment.
- You will notice that there is more time between available appointments. This is because the RMT needs more time between patients to complete all cleaning and disinfecting procedures.
- Your RMT will tell you about all public health measures they have implemented.
When you arrive
Once you arrive at your massage therapy treatment, things might look a little different, and you may be asked to behave a little differently than you would have in the past. When you arrive at your massage therapy appointment you will:
- Be required to wash your hands. You will see signage outlining proper handwashing procedures. Your RMT will also wash their hands before each treatment, after disinfecting the space.
- Be screened again for COVID-19 to ensure your status has not changed.
- Be asked to provide your name and phone number in a log to be used for potential future contact tracing. You may choose to refuse to provide this information.
- Bring a disposable or reusable mask, which you will be asked to wear for the duration of the treatment. If you do not have a mask, your RMT may be able to provide one, and if you have a health condition that makes wearing a mask difficult, your RMT will use their professional judgement to assess the risks of continuing a treatment. If you have any concerns about wearing a mask, contact your RMT in advance. Your RMT will also be wearing a mask.
- See that the waiting room looks a bit different, with any seats spaced two meters apart (seats may also be removed) and you won’t see things like magazines or a water service, which are difficult to disinfect.
- See signage at entrances and reception areas that outline the signs and symptoms of COVID-19, what to do if one is at risk, and how to limit transmission, including signage reiterating the requirement to wear a mask and wash your hands before proceeding.
During your appointment
While the treatment will remain as normal as possible, there will be a couple of changes.
- You will be asked to wear your mask during the treatment.
- Your RMT will also be wearing a mask at all times.
Behind the scenes
There are a lot of things that RMTs will be doing behind the scenes to keep their patients safe. This includes:
- Changing linens, blankets and pillows between patients which will be washed and dried on the highest heat setting possible.
- Cleaning and disinfecting high touch surfaces (e.g. light switches, door knobs, counter tops, etc.) at least twice per day.
- Disinfecting the treatment room and all of its equipment between patients. This includes but is not limited to the massage table, stool, oil bottle and face cradle. Any face cradle cover is changed after each patient.
After the appointment
After your appointment and as you go to pay and leave the clinic, things might be a little different as well.
- If you’ve gotten paper receipts in the past, it is likely that your RMT will have gone paperless if possible, to discourage touching any shared surfaces. This would include digital options for all necessary paperwork and forms.
- Many RMTs will encourage non contact forms of payment if possible, e.g. tap with a debit or credit card, and discourage use of cash.
- After the appointment your RMT will wash their hands (including forearms and elbows) with soap and water before and after disinfecting. They will then clean and disinfect anything used during the appointment.
- While you are not receiving massage therapy treatment, you should maintain a 2 meter distance from your RMT.
Although the treatment environment and the procedures you are expected to follow might be a little different, what remains the same is RMTs’ commitment to the health and safety of their patients. During this unprecedented time, RMTs are working hard to ensure they can provide you with the health care you need as safely as possible.