Should You Treat Massage Clients When They Are Sick?

October 15, 2014 3 min read


Every year, about this time, the cold weather starts setting in, and people starting getting the sniffles. Sometimes, it’s gone in a day, and other times it becomes a full-blown sneeze fest. 


Which is a problem, if you’re supposed to be giving them massage treatments.


Often times, a client won’t mention to you before a treatment that they’ve been battling a head cold, or that the flu that’s been going around got them too. Many people will just turn up, hop on the massage table, sneeze once or twice and insist they’re not contagious anymore.


Yeah, right!


Of course, when you were training as a therapist you would have been advised against working on people with illnesses of this kind. 


Not only can massage exacerbate symptoms in some cases, but it also puts your health at risk, and the health of your other clients. And while it’s true in some cases that a massage will help wrap up a cold that’s coming to an end, generally it’s not worth the risk.


Now, there are two scenarios likely to occur during cold and flu season.


The first is that your client will call you and let you know that they’re not well. This is the ideal situation, as it will let you assess what kind of illness they have, and whether or not you want to go ahead. If you decide against doing the treatment, it can generate a lot of goodwill not to charge them for the missed session. 


This situation can also be encouraged by having a clear policy on sickness. Add a note to each of your booking confirmations and reminders that if they have symptoms to please reschedule - and that they won’t be charged for this. 


It might be worth adding that if they do turn up with obvious symptoms, you’ll have to turn them away (and whether or not they’ll be charged for that session, depending on your point of view).


But what about the second scenario?


A regular client turns up spluttering and sniffing and wants to have their treatment. At that point, it’s up to you to decide if you proceed. 


You’ve got two options: turn them down and ask them to reschedule. Be polite, of course, but firm - it’s not worth risking the health of your other customers. Or, if you’re feeling robust and healthy, and it seems like they are just about over the illness, you can go ahead. 


If you do go ahead, you must ensure that your treatment room is thoroughly disinfected afterwards. The best way to guarantee that the germs don’t travel to your next client is to have disposable massage table covers and disposable face hole covers handy at all times. That way, you can simply throw away the covers used for the sick client and put fresh, hygienic ones on for your next client.


This also saves you from having to use harsh disinfectants that will damage the upholstery of your massage table. Leather and faux leather materials are easily weakened by using chemical sprays, so better not to let a sick client come into contact with the upholstery at all. You want to protect the health of your massage table too!


What do you do when you’re faced with sick clients? Do you turn them away, or do you treat them? How do you handle the situation? Pop over to our Facebook page and let us know!

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