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 shall endeavour to update this one regularly.
Are you still open? Podiatry clinics never closed. We were specifically mentioned at the start of lockdown as essential businesses that can stay open. Regardless, minimising travel and contact will help reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and for the earlier parts of lockdown all but emergency treatments were postphoned.
So, can I have an appointment? All patients are triaged into red, amber and green categories. Currently podiatrists can see reds, ambers and greens - if the problem cannot be helped by self management or via an online video appointment. If lockdown restrictions increase again then this will change.
Can my problem wait until all this 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? Yes. Again, this is on a case by case basis. Treatments that cause a risk of infection or pain are best avoided, for example, aggressive verrucae treatments, will be avoided.
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. 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 and even the skirting board gets wiped down. The floor is mopped between patients. 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 Care surcharge?
There are a number of measures to help keep you safe in clinic including additional cleaning between each appointment and gaps between appointments to avoid patient overlap and extra PPE. In order to maintain a viable business, a Covid Care surcharge of £15 to each in-clinic appointment partially offsets this cost. 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.
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 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, a mask and a face shield. The first thing you need to do is use gel on your hands. The clinic room looks similar - hopefully tidier - but that chair you sit on to take your shoes off is further away than usual.
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. It’s a good idea to wash your hands or use hand gel on your way out, too.
Should I wear a mask? There’s a question with no easy answer! If you can breathe comfortably with it on, will wash your hands or use hand gel after donning it and you can wear it without touching it - then yes. I also suggest washing your hands or using hand gel after removing it. I have some masks in clinic if you would like one. I will tell you how to put it on if you are unfamiliar with using them.
Can I wear gloves? Only if you wash your hands before putting them on and they are new, disposable ones. Wearing gloves is not encouraged as good hand hygiene is more important.
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. The clinic landline is currently directed through to my mobile, so please leave a message if I don’t answer. If I do answer, please excuse my children asking for snacks in the background! 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 and sometimes I lose track of time.
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 super comfy, so that's likely to be a permanent change. The face visor is to give additional protection to the mask as well as reducing the risk of infection into my eyes.
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