BY IAN CHOW, CERTIFIED MASSAGE THERAPIST
Update: To all therapists, stay safe and stay healthy. It sucks to be in Movement Control Order (MCO) for the third time and not able to see what is ahead of us. Hang in there.
Covid-19 situation and its after effect is indeed hurting a lot of industries and massage / spa industry is not spared as well.
During the MCO period, I was also thinking how does those foreign therapists here will be able to survive through this pandemic especially when their earnings are commission based. At the time of writing this initially, we are already in this semi lockdown period for more than 2 months now and that means, no income for those or any therapist for that matter of fact for the past 2 months.
Update: One year after this article is written, a lot of the foreign therapists have already left the country for good due to the uncertainties that are happening here in Malaysia.
Post MCO, how will the massage / spa industry be able to attract back or give the confidence to the customer? Guess this is the burning question on all the industry that require close contact.
As a therapist, I definitely have to put in a lot of extra steps compared to before. And these steps also translate to dollar and cent but yet, we can’t raise our price due to the current economy climate. In fact, you can also see a lot of brands out there offering package deals now.
On my end, the below are the additional steps that I have taken as a therapist for my session. But ultimately, after looking at the situation for 1 year plus now, I feel getting vaccinated could be one of the way out in longer run. I know it is not 100% prevention but it definitely give a better safety net for therapist and the client.
a). Contact tracing – but even before, I do keep the contact and treatment details of all my patron as a record so this step is not entirely new to me.
b). Sanitising the massage table with alcohol wipe or spray before and after the session – this step is done there and then at the client house, once the table is out of the bag and before it is place back into the bag. This extra step also means that I now require a slightly longer time to setup and pack my stuff compared to before.
c). Recommending patron to use their own face towel while lying prone. If using mine, I will spray a skin friendly sanitiser spray first on the towel. The same goes to the drape before I use it on the client.
d). All draperies and towels use are “one use” basis. To note, even before the pandemic, it has already been “one use”. Just that now, after treatment, I have an additional bag to place all these used cloths and it is immediately wash with detergent after I reach home. No more waiting for the next batch of laundry or wait til the next morning.
e). Wearing mask while performing the treatment – I will certainly wear mask while doing the treatment but I shall leave it to.the client whether they would like to do so. It is not compulsory. In fact, I am now doing double masking. It does get some time to get used to. I have had some client requesting both face shield and mask. Even though I don’t think it is necessary with the shield but I will comply if they feel the need.
f). Sanitising all my belonging before I enter the client’s house and sanitising my hand before treatment begins. For my own sake, I will be very discipline with no touching of face throughout. If I happen to sneeze or cough during the treatment, I will sanitise my hand again before I continue the treatment (just to be safe).
g). For the time being, I am refraining from face massage on any client. I do work on sinus points for face massage so now I will do this via foot reflexology.
h). When changing position or once treatment is done, I will always remind the patron of not touching their face until their hand is sanitise.
i). Alcohol wiped all other misc items i.e. clock, Bluetooth speaker, oil bottle, sanitiser spray / bottle etc that was brought out for treatment related purpose, before I place them back into my utility box.
j). Not accepting any customer if I am displaying any flu like symptom, no matter how mild it is.
Meanwhile, I have skipped the temperature checking step before treatment cos that may not be a good indicator whether one is infected with Covid-19 or not, as some may be asymptomatic as well. Plus, if you are feeling unwell, you shouldn’t be receiving any massage at all to begin with.
Also, I know some therapist do use glove to do massage on their client but I skipped this as well. This is a human-touch industry and if we lose that sensory, I would rather not accept any client. I do believe the skin to skin contact is also very important to send / receive neurological message more effectively (hence, better treatment result).