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RMTs’ return to practice – Interim guidelines

RMTs who wish to do so are able to resume massage therapy practice from May 19, 2020 onward, as long as they implement a plan that follows the interim guidelines prepared by CMTBC in consultation with a medical specialist and a panel of RMTs with extensive and diverse practice experience. These guidelines are referred to as “interim” because we fully expect they will be revised as the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to change and as public health guidance evolves.

CMTBC’s interim guidelines are consistent with safety protocols set by WorkSafeBC and with the Provincial Health Officer’s message in a May 15, 2020 letter to BC health professionals (PDF) that “BC is now in a position to ease restrictions on health care services beginning the week of May 19, 2020”. CMTBC continues to refer registrants to BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) – the interim guidelines for return to practice include resources provided by BCCDC, including posters that should be made available in RMTs’ clinics and other practice environments.

CMTBC has submitted the interim guidelines to BC’s Provincial Health Officer and to WorkSafeBC.

RMTs may begin now to prepare for a gradual return to practice from May 19 onward, by following the interim guidelines. Note that May 19 is not a hard date; no RMT should resume practice until they have developed and implemented their own re-opening plan that follows these guidelines.

Highlights from the interim guidelines include:

  • RMTs must develop a plan and share it with patients and colleagues prior to taking appointments.
  • The priority is to minimize risk of transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19.
  • Conduct a COVID-19 risk assessment for your practice environment.
  • Identify actions you will take to reduce the physical, non-treatment-related interactions amongst people in your practice environment.
  • Implement a training and communications plan for your co-workers, to ensure that safety measures and communications are consistent amongst your team members. Your patients need one message from your clinic: that they can confidently receive massage therapy because, of the steps you have taken to minimize risk.
  • You must renew informed consent because the context of care has changed because while it is possible to minimize the risk of viral transmission, it is not possible to eliminate risk.Pre-screening of patients, of RMT/s, and of co-workers for current health symptoms.

RMTs who choose not to return to practice are free to do so. There is no directive for RMTs to return to practice.

Please note that the interim guidelines contain many links to resources on external websites, which are being updated on a daily basis. CMTBC will make every effort to updates links in the guidelines. If you encounter a broken link, please email [email protected] to advise CMTBC.

The interim guidelines apply to CMTBC registrants in British Columbia. Registrants in other jurisdictions must follow guidance provided by the public health authorities in their jurisdiction, and comply with CMTBC Bylaws, Code of Ethics, and standards of practice including the Consent Standard of Practice.

Informed consent required

An important part of the return-to-practice guidelines is that RMTs must renew informed consent to comply with the Consent Standard of Practice. The standard states that “An RMT renews consent when the treatment approach changes for any reason, and revises the treatment plan or creates a new one.”

The treatment approach for all RMTs has changed. The context of care now includes minimizing the risk of transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19, and recognizing that there is some risk involved when patients receive massage therapy. Phase 2 (page 14 of BC’s Restart Plan) specifies that services may resume, but “under enhanced protocols”.

CMTBC’s interim guidelines for RMTs’ return to practice include an extensive pre-screening process followed by in-person screening that must include the patient voluntarily consenting to receive massage therapy, understanding the risk and potential benefit of providing care.

RMTs are required by the Consent Standard to obtain consent in writing. The College recommends you consider sanitizing pens if you are using paper, and sanitizing tablets/screens if you use digital charting and consent forms.

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