The coronavirus pandemic continues to bring changes to our lives both personally and professionally. Whilst the disruption felt at the start of the pandemic may not be as stark, it goes without saying that both our routines and how we interact with others have been transformed.
Veterinary professionals across the country remain open, providing essential care to clients and their animals under extremely challenging circumstances. This change can certainly be felt when we visit our vets and, in today’s blog post we offer our advice on what to expect when visiting your vet during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Visiting your vets will be different under the current circumstances and will, inevitably, feel unusual compared to little over a year ago.
The environment will be one that you will not be accustomed to, however, it is important to remember that your vet will still seek to provide the very best service for you and your animal despite the current restrictions. Whilst these new requests may seem restrictive, they are there to protect the public and the practice and to limit the risk of transmitting COVID-19.
When booking your appointment, you may be asked by your vet if you have been in contact with any COVID-19 cases or if you have had symptoms of the virus. These simple questions help the practice to responsibly evaluate any risks posed by owners and to protect both staff and other clients.
Examinations are at the discretion of the practice and we must be mindful to respect their ultimate decision, which is never taken lightly, to provide care.
Try to be understanding – the practice and its staff are working under very difficult and unusual circumstances and will ask you as the owner to follow the rules they have in place based on government and regulator guidance.
This can take the form of a temperature reading being taken, to use hand sanitiser and a request to wear a face mask when on the premises. Whilst these provisions may feel impersonal, they are in place to assist and to keep everyone safe.
One of the biggest differences that you will notice is that you may not be present during the examination of your animal. Designed to limit human to human contact, practices across the country are asking pet owners to not enter the building.
Before arriving at your vets, it may be useful to think about how this handover will take place. Have your pet ready to pass over to the staff. For dogs this could be having their lead correctly fitted in your hand and ready to hand over, for cats in travel crates this could be placing the crate near to the entrance of the building, in sight for the staff, for the staff to collect.
Your vet will more than likely brief you as to this when you book your appointment for you both to limit interaction and to make the exchange as normal as possible for your pet. It is important to remain vigilant as both client and practitioner when interacting and to ensure the maintenance of social distancing.
Visiting the vets can be a stressful experience for pets and try to remember that your vet has your pets interests at heart.
As we have often suggested, communication is a two-way exchange that can help build understanding for all parties involved.
For professionals, building processes and procedures that staff can understand and follow can make clients feel more at ease and lead to a more fluid way of operating. Having an FAQs section on your website, sending instructions to owners when confirming appointments and reiterating these new processes when speaking to clients on the telephone all help.
Likewise, as a professional you may need to explain things in greater detail to your clients. For example, if you are unable to examine an animal for any reason. Many clients have reported that they feel comforted when professionals explain what they do when they take the animal away for examination.
As a member of the public, bear in mind that examinations and the service you receive will generally take longer than what you may be accustomed to. Whilst this is frustrating for all, we urge patience from the public.
Likewise for professionals, we suggest an open conversation with your patients to draw attention to longer wait times and service which can be highlighted on the booking of an appointment to manage your clients expectations. Other notable differences may include:
It is worth noting that some protocols may vary slightly between practices and this will be based on various factors such as the practice layout and location or maybe the staff’s own health and risk levels.
We feel it important to stress that, whilst you as a client may hear of practices that may be doing something slightly different to another, it is important to respect the protocols that they have put in place as they will have made these decisions for a reason.
At the heart of adapting to these changes is one concept that we believe all can benefit from: mindfulness. Mindfulness allows us to show both compassion and empathy to others and can help to diffuse tension. By applying the practice of mindfulness, we can be more receptive and adaptive to a new way of working.
The VCMS would like to reiterate our commitment to both professionals and the public in these difficult times. We thank all for their understanding in what are extremely challenging circumstances.