COVID-19 makes for a difficult FAQ topic - though not as bad as the snack-and-telly related FAQ constantly fired at me by my children throughout lockdown. The information on this page is accurate, to the best of my knowledge, at the time of writing. Blogs can be edited and so I shall endeavour to update this one regularly.
August update: my plan this autumn and winter is to increase my capacity for appointments and reduce my waiting list in preparation for a potentially tricky winter. This means there will be more flexibility for appointments needing to be rescheduled in case of symptoms. If you have an emergency and I am unable to come to Penn Farm then I will either book you an online video appoitment or arrange a colleague in a different clinic, locally, to help you. Some of you have heard me say "if you fail to prepare, you should prepare to fail". I'm planning and preparing in order keep the clinic providing a quality service to you.
So, can I have an appointment? Yes. Unless your problem can be managed by self help or over a video appointment, you can make an appointment as usual by phoning 01223 782161 or booking online.
If we are in a local lockdown: are you still open? Most likely. Podiatry clinics were specifically mentioned as an essential business to allowed to stay open (with restrictions by our professional body) during our first lockdown and have been able to stay open (with fewer restrictions) in the more recent local lockdowns.
If we are in a local lockdown: can I make an appointment? It depends. All patients are triaged into red, amber and green. Previous lockdowns have enabled either all or just two of these groups to still attend their podiatry appointments. If you are a new patient, we will triage you over the phone or email first. Existing patients are likely to have been triaged already.
If we are in a local lockdown: can my problem wait until it is over? Maybe. This is best discussed on a case-by-case basis. If it can wait, I will encourage you to do so. Be aware, though, that if you have reduced sensation you might not be aware that there is a problem. We need to balance the risk of delaying treatment with the risk of getting COVID-19. Perhaps a video appointment will get you back on track.
Are there any treatments you aren’t offering at the moment? This is decided on a case by case basis. Treatments that cause a risk of infection or pain, for example verrucae treatments, might be avoided if there is a risk of local lockdown.
Is an online video appointment as effective as a face to face one? Yes, actually! For many foot problems the outcomes are the same. A lot of my diagnoses and decisions are based on asking questions and listening to you. I can post you orthoses or arrange antibiotics. I now have an online exercise program that means you can see your stretches and exercises on an app (this also means I can track whether or not you’re doing them. Very handy for me!).
What precautions are you taking to make sure I’m safe? Too many to list here, but I'm happy to be asked. Every door handle you may have touched, the tap, the chair you put your coat and bag on, the credit card machine, every surface and bottle I touch while you are in the room gets wiped down. The floor and skirting boards even get regularly disinfected. There is also a fair bit of extra paperwork behind the scenes. Please do ask if you have any questions about this, it is important to me that patients feel safe in the clinic.
What is your COVID-19 surcharge for?
There are a number of measures to help keep you safe in clinic including additional cleaning between each appointment, gaps between appointments to avoid patient overlap, administrative changes and of course there are the increased PPE costs. In order to maintain a viable business, a Covid Care surcharge of £10 to each in-clinic appointment partially offsets this cost. This seems the most transparent way to manage this. This surcharge has recently decreased from £15 as we were able to reduce some costs and streamline some processes. Please note that this spring's planned price rise has been postponed.
Is it possible to catch COVID-19 in the clinic? Yes, but it is unlikely. Despite significantly enhanced infection control procedures, it is still possible to catch COVID-19 while at Penn Farm Podiatry. You will be asked to consent to this risk.
Podiatrists have always had very high standards of infection control, wear PPE as a matter of course and are trained in microbiology and universal precautions. When I set up Penn Farm Podiatry, part of my ethos was to get the basics spot on - namely confidentiality and infection control - so I feel well placed to keep you as safe as possible.
It is important to us that you feel safe. Please do ask if you have any concerns.
Could I catch COVID-19 from the podiatrist? Yes, but it is unlikely. I use PPE following guidance from both PHE and the College of Podiatry. I check my temperature before I come into clinic and would follow the government’s guidance if I or anyone in my household had symptoms.
Could I catch COVID-19 from other patients? Yes, but it is very unlikely. You will not cross paths with another patient as you will wait in your car until your appointment time. All patients are asked about their symptoms and told to cancel if they or anyone in their household develops symptoms. Every surface that patients are in contact with or that I’m in contact with during their appointment will have been decontaminated.
How do you treat me while adhering to the 2m social distancing rule? I cannot. This is why I have plenty of PPE to help keep us both safe.
What happens when I arrive? You will be asked to wait in your car if you are early. I will come out and wave you in when it's time for your appointment. There is a gap between each appointment to allow for extra decontamination and avoid patients crossing paths.
Can I bring someone with me? You will be asked to attend the appointment on your own if possible. Other adults will need to wait in the car. Children will need to attend with a parent - just the one, but please do not bring siblings. Patients requiring a chaperone, assistance or translators are of course able to bring someone with them. It would be helpful to know this in advance.
What happens when I come into the clinic? You’ll be welcomed with a smile - it’s a shame you can't see it behind the mask. I look a bit different with scrubs and a mask. The first thing you need to do is use gel on your hands. The clinic room looks similar - hopefully tidier!
Can I use the lavatory? Please plan to avoid using the lavatory if possible. If you need to use it before the previous patient has left the building, there is enough space in the waiting room to allow for 2m social distancing. Please tell us if you have used it as the lavatory, sink and taps are all disinfected after each use.
Can I wash my hands? Golly gosh, yes. All patients are asked to use hand gel or wash their hands upon entering the clinic. Turn the tap off with paper towel. The taps and basin are disinfected between patients. Please also wash your hands or use hand gel on your way out, too.
Should I wear a mask? Yes. I have spare masks available if you forget. If you have a medical reason that means you are unable to wear a mask, it would be helpful to know in advance as some changes may need to be made.
Can I wear gloves? It is discouraged becasue good hand hygiene is more important. If you feel safer wearing gloves, please wash or sanitise your hands in the clinic before putting them on. They will need to be new, disposable ones.
Is the information on your website up to date? I’m trying hard to keep it up to date. Please sign up to the newsletter as I’m using that to update patients. Also look at the Penn Farm Podiatry Facebook page for more information. I hope to keep this blog up to date. But emailing or phoning me is the best way to get an answer for any questions.
How do I contact you? The same as usual. My receptionist is off site and will forward any questions to me. Email is also a good way to get in touch with me. If your call or email is not returned, PLEASE do try again, and accept my apologies, as sometimes messages go awry.
Are coronaviruses on the foot? Not really, no. In theory, if you are infected and cough, the virus would drop down and land on your foot. Maybe avoid licking other people’s toes, just in case. Regardless, I have changed the antiseptic used on feet in the clinic to one that is more effective on coronaviruses.
Does COVID-19 affect the feet? One day I’ll do a blog just on this, as it’s quite interesting to us podiatrists. Patients recovering from COVID-19 have been reported as having chilblain like lesions on their toes. You are not, however, currently recommended to self-isolate if you have a rash on your toes.
Why do you wear so much PPE? Penn Farm Podiatry is following both PHE’s tables 2 and 4 as well as the College of Podiatry’s guidance. Podiatrists wear PPE anyway - many patients are used to seeing me in an apron, gloves and sometimes a mask. I now wear scrubs to work because they are easy to chuck into a hot wash. Scrubs are also super comfy, so that's likely to be a permanent change. In some circumstances, a face visor is needed to give additional protection as well as reducing the risk of infection into my eyes. I have learned more about masks than I had ever thought possible - feel free to test my knowledge!
My child (or someone in my household) has been in contact with someone suspected to have COVID-19 should I cancel? Yes. Penn Farm Podiatry’s policy is “stricter” than the government’s guidance. This is because older and medically vulnerable people attend the clinic. If anyone in your household has been in contact with a confirmed OR suspected COVID-19 case, then you are requested to cancel your appointment. If you have an urgent need for Podiatric care, we can arrange an online video appointment or you will be directed to 111. You will be treated as a priority when arranging another appointment.
If I cancel my appointment because of COVID-19 symptoms, will I need to pay a cancellation fee? Under normal circumstances, a fee is charged if you cancel your appointment less than 24 hours beforehand. This will be waived if it is for COVID-19 reasons. This is to encourage you to stay at home if you or someone in your household has (or has been in contact with someone who has) COVID-19 related symptoms.
What happens if you or I come down with COVID-19 symptoms after the appointment? Anyone with symptoms needs to arrange a test as soon as possible. https://www.nhs.uk/ask-for-a-coronavirus-test If you or I have a positive test, tracing contacts will be managed by Track and Trace. (DID YOU KNOW: I am a clinical caseworker with Track and Trace! I know the drill.) It seems unlikely that you/I would be considered a contact as I wear appropriate PPE.
What happens if I’m not happy about something? Please, tell me. Perhaps I can explain something better, or you could have spotted something to improve I’ve not thought about. Maybe I need to apologise if something just hasn’t been right. You can also contact my professional body the College of Podiatry and my regulatory body the HCPC.
How can I help Penn Farm Podiatry? Thank you to all my patients and colleagues who’ve checked up on me. Running a business during a pandemic is a new experience. The guidance is ever changing. Please be kind to all small business owners. Something that would help, if you have time, is to leave me a review. I’ve written about that a bit over here.
Written: 1st June 2020
Updated: 2nd June 2020
Updated: 8th July 2020
Updated: 27th August 2020