January 2021: Can I Work?

07 Jan 2021 10:00 | SMA Member Administration (Administrator)


We recommend that you double-check you are following the protocols on client screening, PPE, infection control and compliance with Track and Trace.  We further recommend that you include within your client notes justification for treatment (i.e. why it was necessary), in addition to the following:

  • that the patient has consented to treatment
  • that the patient has been Covid screened
  • that the patient is wearing an IIR mask and the therapist is in full PPE
  • that the patient's temperature has been taken (and what it was)
  • that justification for treatment has been completed

These can be completed quickly using the following format:

F2F Consent  ✅ Screened ✅ Pt IIR  ✅ Me Full PPE   Temp Check  

You are not obliged to continue working if you feel uncomfortable in the light of rising infection rates.

There is no indication that mobile therapists, or those who work from a Covid-secure area within their own homes are obliged to stop work.  Current guidance on household mixing applies to social gatherings and not work situations.  If anything changes, or we are given more specific advice, then we will update guidance here.  


Information correct as of 7th January, 2021       

In the absence of published legislation, and based on Government guidance we advised you to stop working just before Christmas. We have now had a chance to review the latest amendments to the Health Protection Regulations and there are no material changes to previous versions of this legislation as far as Sports Massage/Soft Tissue Therapy is concerned.

Therefore our existing advice given during the November lockdown still applies.  Therapists qualified at levels 4 and 5 may continue to work under stringent conditions; when there is a medical need.  Unfortunately, level 3 therapists remain unable to work, we are sorry. The previous working conditions are more important than ever given the transmissibility of the new strain of the virus i.e. the need for documented risk assessments, full PPE (gown, mask, apron and visor), regular cleaning schedules, strict hygiene precautions and screening of each client.  A medical condition clearly does not include a routine sports massage, suggested medical conditions are: 

  • Unbearable pain levels
  • Inability to perform activities of essential daily living (personal care, continence management, feeding etc)
  • Inability to sleep (affecting function)
  • Inability to work (for frontline workers)

The Resource Pack (available to active SMA members) contains all the necessary documentation to comply with the above information, including a document to lead you through the Virtual Screening that MUST take place prior to a face-to-face treatment to assess the need. Treatments must be kept to a minimum time.

Although the legislation has not changed the conditions in which we find ourselves operating are significantly different. You will be aware of the greater transmissibility of the new Covid Variant and you will be aware of the soaring infection levels and mortality rates. We would ask you to consider more carefully than ever whether or not, even under the circumstances we have outlined, if there is a compelling need to deliver a treatment.  Just because you can treat someone, should you?

Please ensure you keep your clients and yourselves safe above all else.

Northern Ireland

Information correct as of 2nd January 2021

From 26th December 2020 there will be a 6-week lockdown in Northern Ireland.  

The latest Guidance released clearly says sports massage therapy is exempt from closure and, as the information does not mention levels of qualification, we assume it is all levels.  The SMA therefore advise you may work under the strict conditions which have been imposed since the first lockdown i.e., documented risk assessments, full PPE (gown, mask, apron and visor), cleaning schedules, strict hygiene precautions and screening of each client.  This is even more important given the transmissibility of the new strain of Covid.


Information correct as of 21st December, 2020

All of Scotland enters level 4 restrictions from 26th December 2020. The only exceptions will be Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles, and the other island communities where restrictions have been reduced in recent weeks, who will be placed in Level 3.

Unfortunately, this means that all massage therapy must stop, apart from regulated professions.


Information correct as of 21st December, 2020

Wales will enter a National Lockdown, alert level 4, with similar guidelines to the previous firebreak.  This took effect from 20th December 2020 (with relaxation of the rules for Christmas day only).

However, the guidelines state that professional medical services are exempt which means level 4 and 5 qualified therapists only can continue to work but treatment must only be carried out for a medical need. With this in mind, a virtual consultation must take place first to clinically reason the need and this must be documented.

If a sports massage therapists or sports therapist works within a multidisciplinary clinic with statutory regulated health professionals (osteopaths, doctors, nurses) they may also continue to work.

*Please note: we can only offer guidance to therapists registered as members of The SMA.  If you are a member of a different Professional Association you must refer to their guidance on working as it has implications for your insurance cover.  If you would like to join the SMA, please e-mail membership@thesma.org with details of your main qualification in Soft Tissue Therapy and we will advise on eligibility.  Existing members are more than welcome to e-mail us with any questions on this guidance or other issues.

get SOCIAL !