Martine L Pilling, Child and Adult PsychotherapistCounselling, Psychotherapy & Counselling Supervision Services
Farnham, Surrey

COVID-19 Changes to Working Practice and Risk Assessment

Face to face counselling at my practice has now reopened. A risk assessment of Room 4 of Still House has been completed.

For face to face work I have introduced some new procedures. These will be as follows:-

1. When arriving at Still House I will come outside to greet you at the time of your appointment. If I am not there I will be with you very shortly. Please do not ring the buzzer as I will be out to greet you. I will open the exterior door and the interior door into room 4. I will also close the doors after you.

2. When entering the office I will invite you to use hand sanitiser which I will provide. I would ask that you use this again as you leave.

3. When entering the building you should wear a face mask. I will have disposable face masks and gloves in the office should you want to use them. After much consideration of the Government guidelines and the BACPs latest guidance I have taken the decision not to wear a face mask. This decision is based on the distance between us and the length of time we are together. I will however be happy to wear a visor if required. Anyone under the age of 11 is not required to wear a face mask.

4. As you may know I share the occupancy of Still House with other businesses but that we each operate in separate private areas. Waverley Foot Clinic and MyDentist are both currently operating with the use of full PPE equipment under the NHS guidelines. We are maintaining the cleaning of our own private spaces. The other spaces are either not currently occupied or occupied by persons who are not currently working. The communal areas are cleaned weekly by contractors.

5. Room 4 will be cleaned daily, and hard areas wiped down between each client.

6. The space between our seating puts us approximately 2.5 metres apart from each other.

7. Please bring your own water bottle or drink with you. I will not be providing water currently or cups of tea etc.

8. Unfortunately, I will not be offering the use of the sand tray currently. It will not be possible to clean the small sand tray items (or the sand) between each use and so for the moment you will not be able to use this or some of the other smaller creative tools. You will be able to use the writing and drawing pads as each client will have one dedicated to them. If you prefer you may want to bring your own creative tools or pens and drawing or colouring materials. Any items that are use are cleaned after use using anti-bacterial wash.

9. Any child or young person who uses a toy, the toy will be cleaned after each use and therefore clean for the next person. Soft toys will be taken home and washed if used between each use. Small or non-washable items will not be used.

10. There will be a thin blanket on the sofa or chair where you sit. This is to provide protection from whomever else may have been using the seating. I will remove and wash this after each individual use. Each client will have a fresh blanket used for their visit. Again, If you prefer to bring your own blanket or throw to sit on that will be acceptable.

11. I would ask clients to refrain from using the toilets for the time being. If, however the toilet is needed I will be providing disposable seat covers which you should use and dispose of in the bin provided. Hand sanitiser will be available in the toilets also. I would also suggest using the blow hand dryer on the wall instead of the towels which the landlord provides in the toilet. Only one person should enter the toilet at one time.

12. I will only be offering 50-minute counselling sessions for clients and up to 90-minute supervision sessions for supervisees.

13. I will be undertaking twice weekly lateral flow tests. In the event of a positive test I will inform you immediately and counselling will have to revert back to online for a short time, as appropriate.

14. Finally, I would ask that you continue to pay for your session via bank transfer where possible. Paying by card requires more physical contact than you might be comfortable with and is best avoided for the time being.

If you are displaying any symptoms (raised temperature, change to taste or smell or a new cough) or indeed are feeling unwell at all, please postpone your appointment and follow up getting a test for Covid-19. If you have been in close contact with someone with these symptoms then please postpone and self-isolate for 14 days. I confirm you will not be charged for late cancellations because of Covid-19 symptoms.

If you have travelled abroad or used an aeroplane within the last 21 days please confirm all countries you have entered or travelled to or from so that we can discuss whether self-isolation is required before you attend a face to face session with me. Please advise if you have been in contact with anyone who has been positively diagnosed with Covid-19. I will be testing my temperature each morning.

If I have an increase in temperature then I will inform you to let you know I am not working. I will monitor my symptoms and undergo a Covid-19 test where appropriate. If I am tested positive for Covid-19 and the NHS requires details of people I have been in contact with, I will, in the interest of the general public, disclose your name and contact information. Likewise, If you contract the virus I will be happy for you to share my contact details with the NHS for tracking purposes.

If a further local or national lockdown is put in place by the Government then we may have to revert to Zoom and telephone sessions again where possible.

If you are not ready to return to counselling or you are a new client who prefers to avoid meeting face to face at the moment, I will continue to offer counselling over Zoom or telephone where appropriate. Another therapy that is available is “Walk and Talk Therapy” where we meet at a previously agreed location and walk together at a social distance of 1 metre.

Despite best efforts, the above measures cannot entirely eliminate the risk of contracting Covid-19 on my premises. You will need to carefully consider the risk to you and your loved ones before agreeing to attend face to face sessions.

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