The aesthetics industry has been deeply affected by the Coronavirus pandemic and many practitioners have financial and practical concerns regarding their businesses and clinics. With the provisional roadmap to recovery recently shared by the UK government serving as a light at the end of the tunnel, now is a good time to think about your post-COVID business recovery plan and your ability to follow the new mandated Covid-19 Secure Guidelines.
Please note that this article only indicates the guidance available at this moment in time and should not be used as a reference tool for practice.
What’s the schedule?
The recent governmental plan outlines a loose schedule of how the country can expect to recommence activity in a gradual and controlled way, with Step 2 outlining the return of selected year groups to schools and a phased reopening of non-essential retailers from the 1st June, if able to practice social distancing measures. Personal care businesses such as hairdressers and beauty salons, hospitality facilities, and leisure facilities are tentatively scheduled for reopen from 4th July. The Government will issue further guidance shortly on the approach that will be taken to phasing, including which businesses will be covered in each phase and the timeframes involved.
Due to the inherent close proximity required for aestheticians undertaking patient treatment, aesthetics clinics will fall under this latter Step 3 opening schedule, and will not be permitted to practice until 4th July at the earliest. In order to facilitate the fastest possible re-opening of these types of higher-risk businesses and public places, the Government will carefully phase and pilot re-openings to test their ability to adopt the new ‘COVID-19 Secure guidelines’.
Considerations for both patient and staff safety will need to be established by all clinics planning to recommence practice once authorised to do so, including diligent use of PPE, continued social distancing where possible, and a frequent and robust cleaning schedule for all surfaces, shared items, and high traffic areas. Clinical advice and support can be sought from groups including the British Association of Cosmetic Nurses (BACN) which has recently published new operational guidance in the post-COVID environment. As mandated by the government, public transport for travel to work should continue to be avoided wherever possible alongside the use of face coverings and continued compliance with updated social distancing guidelines. The mental wellbeing of yourself and your staff is also paramount and we urge you to be aware and understanding of any anxieties or concerns that may arise as a result of returning to work in these times.
What will it look like?
Existing aestheticians should be under no illusions that practice will look like before. Your clinic or business may be somewhat different for some time as all industries tentatively rebuild themselves but this can be viewed as an opportunity to embrace a diversified approach to practice and a way to bolster the adaptability of your business. Indeed, many independent groups argue that the resulting changes to practice may have already been expected and COVID-19 has simply acted as an accelerator of change into this new future of working.
Consider virtual consultations (if not doing so already) and a phased return to practice, as well as restricted hours. This will help to reduce risk, as well as give your business the opportunity to recover gradually without overwhelm threatening your adherence to safety measures.
Guidance on how to undertake clinical practice can be sourced from a variety of groups including the Joint Council of Cosmetic Practitioners (JCCP), the BACN, regulatory bodies including the GMC and GDC as well as the World Health Organisation (WHO) which has released specific guidance on hygiene, PPE and cleaning measures.
Specific considerations covered by these sources include:
- Regular health screening of all patients and staff
- The continued protection of certain patients and staff with underlying health issues
- Use and cleaning of uniform including footwear
- Sterilising of clinical spaces
- Installation of special ventilation systems in high risk (aerosol generating) environments such as dental treatment rooms
- Scheduling of patient bookings to protect social distancing policies
- Migration to online/virtual consultations including follow up reviews where possible
- Education of patients on new clinical measures and practices
It is also important to consider the possibility of a second UK peak in the prevalence of COVID and the impact that may have. Whilst the government has told businesses to begin tentative preparations to recommence work, it would pay to remain aware that should this situation occur it is likely the lockdown will be reinstated.
There are a number of governmental support packages available for businesses large and small; for both the employed and self-employed. These include:
- VAT deferrals that provide a direct cash injection of over £30bn, Self- Assessment tax deferrals providing a cashflow benefit of £13bn and more than 64,000 tailored Time to Pay arrangements agreed with businesses and individuals;
- A business rates holiday worth £11bn to businesses;
- Direct cash grants worth £10,000 or £25,000 for small businesses in various sectors worth over £12bn in total;
- £1.25bn support for innovative firms;
- A rebate scheme to reimburse SMEs for part of their SSP costs worth up to £2bn for up to two million businesses; and
- A package of government-backed and guaranteed loans, which make available approximately £330bn of guarantees.
More information can be found at gov.uk.
Market your relaunch
You will need to think carefully about innovative but appropriate ways to market your relaunch to both existing and prospective patients. Social media is an excellent platform for sharing information and guidance, either about aesthetics in general or updates and advice relating to staying safe as we may make our way out of the pandemic.
Many practitioners often find they don’t have enough time to dedicate to their social content, so now is the perfect opportunity to bolster this with useful and relevant content, such as informational series’ on different treatments and products or IGTV streams on topical issues, for example. The importance of webinars and digital, validated, educationally strong content cannot be underestimated, especially at a time when there is so much uncertainty.
Networking events and training opportunities
There is an abundance of resources and learning tools available online that aestheticians can access. In this time of reduced physical practice, these can be used to keep yourself and staff informed on industry development and mitigate against the attrition of knowledge. It’s also a fantastic time to enhance and attain knowledge on any areas that are lacking or new to you, ahead of being able to undertake further practical training. There are also now a number of COVID-19 specific online certifications available to provide a means of virtual training in the use of cosmetic injectables.
As we move more firmly into a post-COVID period, it would be useful for both existing and new practitioners to attend aesthetics specific networking events to bolster connections in the industry and share and acquire knowledge and discuss best practice with your peers. A subscription to the Aesthetics Journal or similar publication will ensure you are kept up to date with the industry schedule and any upcoming events.
Acquisition Aesthetics - online short courses
Acquisition Aesthetics have created a provision of remote access aesthetic education and training content via a number of online short courses, including an Injectables Refresher Course, covering the sciences and practical application of botox and dermal fillers. These online courses are available to book exclusively via direct contact with our team. Please call 020 3514 8757 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Subscribe to our email updates and keep an eye on our social media channels for more information.
There is no doubt that whilst the peak of the pandemic is behind us, challenging times lay ahead for us all on both a personal and professional level. We urge you all to stay safe and take care of yourselves, your families and your staff as we ease our way out of this global crisis. We extend our immense gratitude to those amongst our aesthetics community who have put their practice on hold to join the heroic efforts on the NHS frontline.
Professional and personal support can be found at the following resources:
Money Advice Service
British College of Aesthetic Medicine