Update: The impact of COVID-19 on practitioners two months on

At Hamilton Fraser Cosmetic Insurance our number one priority is the safety, security and wellbeing of our practitioners and we are committed to providing a supportive service no matter the circumstances that we face.

With the development of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic growing we carried out an industry survey from 22-24 March 2020, amidst the UK’s lockdown, asking 1380 practitioners about how the pandemic was impacting on their place of work and income, what measures they were taking to mitigate against the virus and their thoughts surrounding the industry’s recovery.

With our insight from the first survey in mind we ran another survey for aesthetic practitioners from 1-5 May to further explore their thoughts and feelings surrounding the pandemic and how, and if, things had changed. We received a total of 638 responses from practitioners who provided additional insight into how they are keeping motivated, have been finding returning to the NHS and the challenges and triumphs they are experiencing.

Mark Copsey, Healthcare Associate Director at Hamilton Fraser Cosmetic Insurance comments;

“We are incredibly grateful to the 638 practitioners who took the time to complete our survey as we look to understand the challenges faced by aesthetic practitioners as a result of COVID-19. The feedback we have gathered will help us to ensure that practitioners continue to receive high quality support, advice and guidance from Hamilton Fraser Cosmetic Insurance.

During these difficult times, we are working as hard as we can to provide advice and support to our clients and policyholders. We recognise that all businesses throughout the UK are facing unprecedented challenges, regardless of the industry or sector they are operating in.”

Practitioners methods staying motived

Aesthetic practitioners have understandably been greatly impacted by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Of those surveyed 256 respondents listed the different ways they have maintained motivation during this time including, attending free webinars (66.80 per cent), gaining more education in the aesthetic industry (46.88 per cent), setting daily goals (44.92 per cent), keeping up to date with support groups (28.52 per cent) and schedule virtual get-togethers with their employees (16.41 per cent).

Other routes of motivation included, spending time with family and regular exercise. Miranda Pearce, Co-founder of SkinViva Academy and Clinic, has also shared her seven top tips to help practitioners maintain their mental wellbeing during the current pandemic.

Effective training during lockdown

As a result of COVID-19 a number of practitioners have missed out on attending workshops, conferences and training days vital to continuing their development and learning in the sector. Virtual training courses have been a natural solution to this problem and have been a key asset to help practitioners to continue their professional development during this period, with many companies holding online webinars and education courses. A large proportion of practitioners (73.83 per cent) have been on virtual training courses, with the most popular topics being, treatment (48.44 per cent), CPD and training (45.70 per cent), COVID-19 (39.84 per cent), business planning (26.56 per cent) and marketing (25.36 per cent).

Did you know our Hamilton Fraser Cosmetic Insurance 2019 annual survey results article is CPD certified, helping your continued professional development?

New methods of leadership and communication

Employees need regular communication in times of crisis, with clear guidance on how to effectively work from home and best support and protect their health and wellbeing. During this time leadership communication is critical.

Therefore to overcome the challenges of engaging with their team and colleagues practitioners have been using a number of communication methods including; communicating through WhatsApp (42.56 per cent), having regular team check-ins (21.88 per cent) and weekly calls (14.84 per cent). However, 30.86% report that they have been put on furlough, therefore reducing communication within the team.

How are practitioners adapting to the ‘new normal’

Some practitioners have found innovative ways of working to maintain their income during the pandemic. Their insight is useful for, and applicable to, a number of practitioners in helping to keep revenue streams flowing, protect their clients and also safeguard their businesses. Some innovative methods employed by practitioners include:

Practitioner 1

Maintaining visibility with my clients via social media and updating them on how returning to the NHS has been – they have been very responsive knowing that I work for the NHS which has strengthened their view of me being a medical professional offering aesthetic treatments.

Practitioner 2

Launched a webinar training program.

Practitioner 3

Weekly guided facials to help my clients keep their skin fresh and healthy, whilst selling skin care products.

Practitioner 4

Excellent use of the MySkinDoctor app to be able to continue our dermatology services during the lockdown.

Practitioner 5

We have increased our skin care knowledge and are writing lots of blogs for my website which we’ve never had time to do.

Advice and guidance for the future

The onset of COVID-19 has opened many eyes to just how quickly things can change. While future planning might seem like the last thing on your mind, the future of your business is extremely important and is something to consider carefully over the next few weeks. We asked practitioners to provide a piece of advice they would give to another practitioner. We received a number of great tips including:

Practitioner 6

Be open and honest with clients. They appreciate how difficult this time is for us all especially knowing that I am a medical professional working back in the NHS. Clients have been responsive with update posts and are keen to be placed on a waiting list ready for when I can begin to offer treatments again once safe.

Practitioner 7

Stay positive, this is a good time to refocus/re-engineer your business, get all your paperwork updated and sort your accounts out, you will never have this time again. A positive mind-set and a vision for reopening, don’t let your heads go down, face always to the sunshine, and remember these things are sent to test us, it’s our resilience that will help us bounce back! Never ever give up on your dreams.

Practitioner 8

Look after your mental health

Practitioner 9

Be ready for the tidal wave, people will still want treatment, be ready!

Practitioner 10

Enjoy the nostalgia of the quietness in the community and use this time to reflect upon what a great service we give. We are part of a professional service which will be stimulated again once lockdown is over and our businesses will be safe, my advice is to remain humble and grateful for that. Prepare in a good time for re-opening and engage with your peers. Follow national guidelines and professional body recommendations.

Practitioner 11

Make a plan for restart, aim to hit the ground running.

The potential positive implications of the pandemic

You don’t have to look far to see how restrictions have had a positive impact on the environment, from reduced levels of pollution to a reduction in emissions from vehicles. The pandemic has also helped many practitioners to take a step back and rethink their business plan, assessing how they would like their business to operate in the future. Many practitioners are investigating new ways of working, exploring new treatment types, examining how they can better increase hygiene within their clinics, as well as building lasting and meaningful relationships with their clients.

As a result of the pandemic, 37.50 per cent of practitioners said that it had changed their perceptions of the aesthetic sector. Some practitioners have come to the realisation that while aesthetics is often viewed as ‘cosmetic’ it is in actual fact so much more. It has shown clients that aesthetic procedures are not just routine beauty treatments and that guidance must be followed to ensure the safe delivery of treatments and after care. In addition, this uncertain time has also exposed the unregulated side of the industry, with a small number of unscrupulous practitioners bending the Government rules for extra income. It is likely that as a result further questions surrounding regulation and patient safety in the sector will be addressed in the not so distant future.

For the many more highly skilled, honourable and upstanding practitioners the pandemic provides new opportunities to grow, learn and develop even further, as well as securing the longevity of their patient-practitioner relationships and long term business goals.

Keeping in contact with clients

At times like these, it is more important than ever to remind your patients that you are still there to  support them. The COVID-19 crisis has forced practitioners to adapt, adjust and in some cases, to re-invent themselves. Businesses rely on the relationships built with clients, therefore there has been a higher importance placed on communication tools such as social media (63.28 per cent) for keeping in contact with clients.  In addition, practitioners have been creating a waiting list for practitioners (31.64 per cent), offering video consultations (20.31 per cent) and selling products online (18.75 per cent). However, 21.09 per cent are not keeping in touch with their patients due to a lack of time while they are busy working in the NHS.

Most popular treatments

Based on their extensive understanding of the market we asked practitioners what treatments they believed would be the most popular with clients once their clinics resumed. It is unsurprising, based on our annual survey results and industry figures, that  a large number of practitioners reported that they believed botulinum toxin (92.58 per cent) and dermal fillers (62.89 per cent) were likely to be the most popular treatments requested by patients. This was followed by skin care (28.52 per cent) and weight loss (21.48 per cent).

 

Keeping patients and practitioners safe

We understand that during these exceptional times practitioners are having to make important decisions to ensure that both their teams and patients remain safe.  In order to secure the safety of patients and practitioners it is likely that a post COVID-19 sector will implement new measures to achieve this. Practitioners were asked what measures they will be taking when clinics reopen to ensure patient safety:

  • Wearing PPE – 89.06 per cent
  • Deep cleaning clinic – 81.25 per cent
  • Cleaning after each treatment – 88.28 per cent
  • Reduce the number of clients who can enter at each time – 76.56 per cent
  • Asking clients to wear gloves and masks when not conducting the treatment – 35.55 per cent
  • Increase time between appointments – 76.17 per cent

One practitioner comments

We have our sights set in mind with our patient’s safety and our safety being the main focus. New PPE has been introduced and one to one clinic appointments will be essential. Plan and document the goals you need to implement in the form of new Standard Operating Procedure (SOPS) – because we are all going to need them. The main points are to; reinforce good clinical practice which we all already use but incorporate this in a way that follows the law in relation to COVID-19. We will have to introduce many new ways of working to this SOP.

 

The insight gained from our updated survey shows the extensive impact of COVID-19 on the sector. Despite the changes and uncertainty facing the aesthetics industry, practitioners are largely positive about returning to work and continuing aesthetic treatments post COVID-19. It is likely however that additional procedures and safeguards will be required to ensure the continued safety of practitioners and their patients in the future. It is also apparent that careful and meticulous business planning, relationship building with clients and innovation are important elements required to adapt and overcome the challenges faced by the current pandemic.

 

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