Insurance Concerns

Don't get caught - beware online only courses

Whilst all practitioners have benefited from the use of online courses for CPD and enhanced learning, it is important to realise that some insurance companies will not cover you for practical techniques that have no (or minimal) live components to develop and assess your learning. Most practitioners would understand this, but there is an increasing number of practitioners trying to take shortcuts to training and this has become a real concern to those of us who know only too well that you cannot learn osteopathic assessment and technique online. 

Blended learning (which teaches theory online and practicals face-to-face) can certainly allow for greater flexibility and is a really excellent way of learning if you are an international student. But courses that are taught solely online – or with minimal hands-on (face-to-face) practical should be approached with caution and carefully evaluated. 

"We would look to avoid any osteopathy related qualification (human or animal) that was conducted online. If we had an Osteopath who was qualified in Human Osteopathy and they had completed an online Animal Osteopathy course, this would not meet our underwriting criteria as we would always expect a course of this risk level to include practical work under supervision, assessed case studies, A&P, written and practical assessments." July 2021

Balens Limited

If you are looking to study animal osteopathy as a new career, AAO would recommend that you look carefully at the prerequisites, the indicative content, the methods of teaching that are used, and the support mechanisms the school has in place. 

Check that the provider offers you live support, solid theoretical knowledge and face-to-face practical classes with your peers, so you can learn from each other and your lecturers. There should be proper practical assessments (in person), so you can be sure that whatever you have been taught and assessed to do on animals is safe and correct, and there should be some case-based learning to contextualise your knowledge, supported by written exams to evaluate your progress. Without a robust education in animal osteopathy, not only may you struggle to get insurance, you may also be at risk of hurting an animal. 

Unless you are already highly experienced practitioner, merely seeking to enhance your knowledge base, please be careful of the courses you choose and be sure to contact your insurance companies in advance, if you are learning new techniques which do not fall under your current scope of practice. 

News from New Zealand

By Sarah Wisson

It has been just over a year, since NZ came out of the 6-week “lockdown” due to COVID 19. In that period, no one was working except the emergency services, medical & veterinary emergency staff Supermarkets were functioning, but that was about it. It was an unusual time for us all.

For many of us in our profession, we were able to do some work by tele-health, and it was amazing to see what one could achieve through a simple video call; such as asking clients to perform examinations & treatments on their own animals to assist recovery. Unfortunately however, under such circumstances, some animals were seen too late, rendering recovery impossible. In these cases, lives were sadly lost. Other cases resulted in prolong recovery, which has resulted in permanent issues for those animals and their owners.

Since returning to work, post-lockdown, (which has been just over a year), we have seen a lot of changes. People have brought puppies and horses, because of the lack of travel. They’ve had more time at home, making a long-term desire to have an animal around, a reality. This has caused an increase in demand, and prices to escalate.

In my professional career, I’ve never seen so many young dogs in the community, often owned by ill-prepared owners. Whether it’s down to a lack of education, or too much enthusiasm, the result is the same. Over worked animals that are suffering as a result. Over working young dogs as all therapists should know, puts intense strain on the animal’s joints, muscles and connective tissue. All of which are still growing. They simply lack the skeletal maturity for what the owner wants to do, so education becomes essential.

The same situation arises in horses. People buy a new horse and expects miracles. They forgets to build a relationship, work with the horse on the groundwork, allow the horse time to adapt to their new surroundings and be taught gently and kindly how to understand their new owner’s demands. The result? Lameness and injury.

As practitioners we must strive to educate our clients and the wider public audience (who are potential buyers of these animals). We need to encourage people to learn more about their animals, so that they can care appropriately for them and do what is right. Too often, owners buy what they can afford (especially in the case of a horse), and then grow increasingly frustrated when the horse can’t do what they want. This creates a vicious cycle that rarely ends well, and the same can happy with young puppies, who will pull on a lead repeatedly or chew new shoes, because they know no better.

Owning an animal is a responsibility and an honour, and it is our job, as animal osteopaths to educate our communities. Doing so, could save a lot of pain and sadness in the long-term. For the owner and the animal.

With an increase of animals in the community, we have also seen an increase the number of people wanting to work and treat animals. In NZ there is no registered body, or animal course that is recognized or accepted by any accrediting body. We have seen a few students in the osteopathic course at ARA in Christchurch NZ undertake studies with Animal International Osteopathy and the AAO is currently building a greater presence, so that it can support NZ practitioners. This is a welcomed situation, as all new practitioners, need to have an Association to reach out to for advice and support.

If you are a new practitioner in New Zealand, please reach out to AAO today. Our aim is to provide standards and guidelines for all who treat animals functionally/osteopathically, so please reach out if you need support.

Calling for observation opportunities

Message from the Osteopathic Alliance and iO

This article is relevant to UK-based osteopaths

As we cautiously move to more normalised activities, we are receiving increasing requests about observational practice visits. In response, the Osteopathic Alliance (OA) and the iO are collaborating to encourage osteopaths who are willing to open for observations to add their details to the iO Mentoring platform which has been expanded to facilitate these opportunities.  

Nadine Hobson, Chair of the OA, the coalition of osteopathic post-registration colleges, said of the initiative: “Having incorporated observational practice visits into our courses and teaching clinics for a long time, the OA understand the value these bring to osteopathic development. There is a long history within the profession of experienced practitioners providing an opportunity to those that wish to shadow and observe the realities of working in private practice, whilst gaining further insights into Osteopathic thinking and clinical reasoning processes in patient care and partnership.“We would like to encourage principals to re-introduce this practice and support the new generation of osteopaths now graduating. It is a simple process, just complete an online form and you will be matched with suitable observers.”

The iO has always held the view that osteopaths can only benefit from working and sharing with other osteopaths. Matthew Rogers, Head of Professional Development at the iO expands: “It is common practice amongst healthcare professions that peer or student observations take place. Indeed, for many, it is considered an integral part of the CPD and professional development process. For practitioners being shadowed, it provides an opportunity to support recruitment, extend professional networks and engage with other practitioners to mutually share knowledge for the benefit of patient care.”

As we cautiously move to a situation where more normalised activities resume, we are receiving increasing requests from practitioners on how they can resume observations safely.  To provide assurances to clinic principals and practitioners who would like to provide these valuable opportunities, we have developed a guide ‘Best practice for observations/shadowing in private practice’. The guide clearly outlines the expectations and protocols that are expected of observers, as well as those being shadowed.  So why not add your name as one of the practitioners open for observations, share your knowledge, and provide a valuable experience to the upcoming generation of osteopaths.

DOWNLOAD: Best Practice for observations/shadowing in private practice.

Sign up HERE to add your name as ‘open for observations’.

Prince Philip 1921 – 2021

”It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.”

Prince Philip was an honorary member of the Jockey Club since 1947, around the same time he became a naturalised British subject and married [the then] Princess Elizabeth. He was made a prince ten years later.

He saw active service in the Royal Navy throughout World War II, and was a qualified pilot, flying almost 6,000 hours in 59 types of aircraft. It was whilst he was stationed in Malta from 1949 to 1951 that HRH took up polo, which he played until 1971.

When arthritis and age forced him to quit, he took up carriage driving, a sport he continued to take part in into his 90s.

“I started driving because I’d been playing polo and I decided I would give up polo when I was 50. And I was looking around to see what next and what there was available. And I suddenly thought we’ve got horses and carriages so why don’t I have a go?”

But he wasn’t satisfied with just ‘having a go’.

Opening wereldkampioenschappen vierspannen op Het Loo ; Prins Phillip (Engeland) in aktie met vierspan *11 augustus 1982 – image by Hans van Dijk / Anefo created 1982

The early rule book was drafted under his supervision, and he was instrumental in getting the carriage driving three-day event included in the Windsor Show in the 1970s.

Photography led him to bird watching, which, in turn [eventually], led to the founding of the WWF in 1961, of which he was president from 1981 to 1996.

He was involved in many conservation efforts throughout his lifetime, from establishing an alliance between religious leaders and conservationists, to travelling across the Southern Pacific Ocean and Antarctica to identify native seabirds. For much of his married life, he took a close interest in the management of The Queen’s Private Estates, Sandringham and Balmoral, as well as Windsor Great and Home Parks. Because of this, over five thousand trees and several miles of hedges are planted at Sandringham each year, ten wetland areas have been created, and sympathetic farming practices encourage many different species of wildlife.

Among unusual official presents received by Prince Philip were two pygmy hippopotamuses given by President Tubman of Liberia following his state visit to England in 1961.

He became a Knight of the Order of the Elephant in Denmark, and a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Netherlands Lion.

On this sad occasion, the AAO offer our sincere condolences to his widow, Her Majesty The Queen.

News about Vet Fest 2021

Vet Fest postponed until 2022

Message from Vet Fest Team 

VET Festival 2021, due to be held at Loseley Park in Surrey on 4-5 June, will sadly not be going ahead.
 
We pride ourselves on delivering the best CPD event for the veterinary industry. Sadly, the Government roadmap timings have had an impact on co-ordinating and re-booking the large number of speakers in our programme. As a result, we don’t feel that we can deliver the CPD schedule at VET Festival this year in a way that retains the essence of the event or of the quality that you have become accustomed to.
 
We understand lots of you were holding out hope last year and chose to defer your tickets to this year. We very much hope that you will join us in 2022, so we will once again offer the option to defer your tickets to next year. Alternatively, you will be eligible for a refund.
Ticket holders will receive an email from our ticketing partner SEE Tickets in the next 7 days explaining your ticket options. If you have any questions in the meantime, please feel free to message us or send an email to us at marketing@vetfestival.co.uk.
 
Love Team Vet Fest

Public consultation – RAMP message

Update from RAMP

PUBLIC CONSULTATION REGARDING THE NEW LEGISLATION AROUND VETERINARY SERVICES AND REGULATION OF ALL PRACTITIONERS 'TREATING' ANIMALS.

PLEASE SEE BELOW INFORMATION AND GUIDANCE FROM RAMP REGARDING THIS CONSULTATION: THE DEADLINE FOR RESPONSE IS 5PM ON FRIDAY, 23 APRIL 2021.

As you are all aware the RCVS and DEFRA have been looking at the Veterinary Services legislation and regulation of all practitioners ‘treating’ animals.
 
RAMP surveyed its registrants before Christmas about their thoughts around RAMP entering discussions with RCVS about them acting as our regulator and a huge number of comments and concerns were expressed. The result was however 66% in favour of us at least participating in discussions.
 
The RCVS is conducting a consultation regarding the possibility of incorporating allied professionals under one act. The consultation is now open and RAMP has responded as an organisation however there is also an opportunity for you to give your thoughts as individual practitioners. Like the RCVS, RAMP Council would like you to give a full and honest opinion about these proposals and how they would impact your practice, for better or for worse.
 
RAMP council has offered below some advice and a summary of the questions to help you respond in your own words.
The link for the consultation is;
 
 
1.1: Statutory regulation of the vet-led team
The pros and cons for RCVS regulation were listed on our previous survey email,
however:
Allied Professional is a term already used extensively in the human field but to create an equivalent status the practitioner would have to be autonomous within their scope of practice.
Paraprofessional is a term suggesting the practitioner is not professional in their own right and therefore not competent to take Professional responsibility
Paraprofessionals as a term does indicate we could be viewed as sub vets, which ultimately we are in the current hierarchy, although the latest clarification statement has already given us the primary practitioner role in the competition care and maintenance categories.
 
With regulation the AHP label MAY be attributed and would cement it in the 2 categories more clearly but may cause confusion regarding the remedial category The title AHP would not have the same equivalency as in the human field as it is still ultimately a vet led team regarding the remedial care category.
 
Having considered these points please answer using your own words the following;
 
1. If statutory regulation is offered to MSK practitioners, as allied professionals, by
RCVS what would your thoughts/feelings be?
2. How do you see your skill set in relation to a vet nurse and a et in level and scope?
 
1:2 Flexible Delegation Powers
This will depend on the Scope of Practice developed for each Professional. If the Allied professional is a specialist in a particular set of skills, then the AP should have autonomy to carry out that task or set of skills. In that case regulation needs to be sufficient and supervision not necessary. If standards are lowered to allow paraprofessionals (those would work alongside professional) that require supervision in particular tasks then then Regulation and supervision are required which could inhibit the development of professional standards and scopes of practice in the Allied Professions. It is also possible that the Veterinary Surgeon may not be the professional to supervise the paraprofessional in
specialist tasks that would be best supervised by Allied professionals in the specific speciality.
1. Would you want a mechanism for Regulation and definition of Scope of Practice of Allied Professionals set up to allow adding of new specialities/professions as they develop?
2. Where is the scope for MSK practitioners to clinically reason? The RCVS and individual vets cannot know all the areas in which we work and this could stifle any development and innovation?
3. Which elements for scope of practice for RAMP registrants are most important and vital to retain?
1.3: Separating employment and delegation
This is based round giving VN’s more scope of practice and aiming to make them similar to district nurses in human practice. For bandaging and nursing care this might work but there is a possibility that they could take on rehabilitation work outside the vet practice which they have little skill in doing. Within corporate small animal practices it is now commonplace for VNs to do rehabilitation.
 
1. Can this be achieved to ensure Scope of Practice is defined and it is not seen as a way in the back door for VN’s to take on the MSK Practitioner roll with minimal training? This could help support and increase MSK’s ability to work with greater veterinary referral and delegation in remedial situations and may create further jobs/increase animal welfare.
2. Is this, in theory, a good thing?
 
 
1.4: Statutory protection for professional titles
Protection of titles is appealing but not if it is at the expense of de- skilling the professions. The caveat would be that there is no reduction in our own scope of practice, skill set, standards of practice etc.
 
1. How important to you is a protected title?
2. What title would you think is appropriate and that you might want?
3. What, if anything, is worth sacrificing for this?
 
The RAMP Team

Help Someone Today

Reaching out in COVID when things get tough

Written by Dustie Houchin
frustrated black woman touching lips and sitting on bed

I was talking to a colleague the other day. She’s a really tough lady and usually quite upbeat, but today was different. She sounded low, a bit down. So, I asked what was wrong. She said, “I love my family, but trying to find new ways to help my patients and diversify the practice enough to make a living, is really hard when you also have to be on tap 24/7 as a mother and wife.” She went onto say that she was spending a great deal of time feeling guilty, because whilst she didn’t want to appear grumpy or short fused, she really needed her own space to work through her own career issues and emotional struggles. She has been a very Independent lady for many years, running a highly successful small animal and human practice. She enjoyed the interactions, camaraderie and the day today challenges. Yet, here she is, trying to juggle home-schooling with a husband who sits in his new office (the lounge), constantly talking to colleagues in various remote locations. “There is never a quiet moment. ” she lamented, with a sad tone. 

“My husband is a gem” she said….”but sometimes I just want some peace and quiet to switch off from the world. It’s been really tough trying to help patients virtually and much more demanding, so sometimes I just need the space to breathe, get some silence and unwind.”

R’s practice had been located inside another business, which sadly hasn’t survived COVID. As a result, she lost her clinic rooms. This isn’t an unusual story. Sensibly, R made the decision to wait until the pandemic was over before trying to find new premises, but it has left her trying to juggle home visits, with remote consultations, which (if you’ve tried it) is not easy. And all this, whilst dealing with bad-tempered teenagers and a husband who’d rather be in the office, talking shop with the lads.  

I realised then, how often I’ve heard variations of that story since COVID began. 

Many practitioners are struggling. Not just financially, but also emotionally. Most of us have been forced into unnatural settings, trying to modify the way we work in order to accommodate regulatory demands. But, it’s not easy. Our homes don’t feel like “home” anymore. Most are modified offices, classrooms and customer call centres. Places where we’re stuck with people we love, but would like to see a little less of…  That lovely feeling we used to get when putting our feet up at the end of a day, has gone. Instead, we can’t wait for the day that we can “get out”, move and go somewhere other than around the block. 

These aren’t easy times and stories vary dramatically. Some people are happy doing emergency home-visits and are incredibly busy, whilst others are scared of the risks and so struggling to make ends meet. The result is, that depending on your personal circumstances and how you feel about mixing with others, your life may vary dramatically from the practitioner next door. What I’ve observed as a result of all this, is a shutting down of open communication. Those who are doing just fine, feel guilty flaunting the fact and those who are falling apart inside, don’t like to admit it. It’s a tragic dilemma and one we need to try to overcome as a profession. 

Never has there been a time, when we need our colleagues more, so please, if you think someone is struggling, do reach out. Maybe offer some gentle suggestions as to how they could diversify without putting themselves at risk or, if it feels more appropriate, just have a virtual cup of tea and a chat. You could even discuss some cases and put it down as CPD! I frequently find, that just seeing someone I recognise on the Skype screen, smiling back, makes me feel better. Even if it seemed like an effort beforehand to glam up a bit for the event! So, if someone suggests a face to face call, try not to fight it. It  will be worth the effort and it will give you a chance to see a fresh face and hear a different perspective. Not to mention the fact that dressing up a bit and wearing a spot of make-up, will make you feel better 🙂 And that’s a researched fact LOL!

As practitioners, we are used to being around people all day long. We laugh and cry with our clients and patients and if you’re like me, some of your old-timers feel more like family, so it’s been hard not to see them. But, these are the times we are in and this is what we have to deal with. So, let’s reach out to one person a day (or one a week if you can’t find the time) and make someone smile. And if you think that someone might be having a hard time (especially if they are on their own), don’t ignore it. We know mental health issues are at a record high, so please reach out and offer a helping hand. Whether that be to talk to them yourself or to guide them towards a professional, it doesn’t matter, but we are supposed to be a community and communities support each other. 

AAO is always here to help and guide practitioners where we can and below are some links for groups and associations who might also be able to help.

Please support each other, because someday, it might be you.

Links to Associations and Resources

If you are feeling low or frightened and need to talk to someone, please reach out. If you don’t feel you want to do that with a friend or colleague, here are some professional organisations that you can reach out to for help and support. We’ve also included some organisations for young people, in case it’s a family member for whom you seek support. Many of these organisations have pages within them, that share information about other associations that might be able to help with specific concerns.

If you would just like to talk to someone at AAO, send an email to animalosteopaths@gmail.com and we will do our best to help or direct you. All communications will be treated as strictly private and AAO will not disclose your details or concerns to anyone. Please note, that whilst we maybe able to offer business suggestions to help you, we are not trained counsellors or mental health specialists. As such, if your issues are more clinical in nature, we would recommend that you reach out and speak to a specialist therapist or find a  local group via one of the links above. 

Important Update from the RCVS and DEFRA

regarding consent for Veterinary Osteopaths, Chiropractors and Physiotherapists to Treat Animals

Important information for Owners, vets and practitioners, there has been a clarification regarding consent from vets for #animalosteopath, #animalchiropractor and #aniamlphysiotherapist practitioners to treat animals.The update from #RCVS can be found on their website at: https://www.rcvs.org.uk

The following update has come from RAMP (#RAMP #RAMPregister)

www.rampregister.org
RCVS Guidance clarification for MSK Practitioners. The following Guidance has been passed by the RCVS Standards Committee and will be circulated among the veterinary profession:

a) Musculoskeletal therapists are part of the vet-led team. Animals cared for or treated by musculoskeletal therapists must be registered with a veterinary surgeon. Musculoskeletal therapists carry out a range of manipulative therapies, including physiotherapy, osteopathy and chiropractic therapy.

b) As per the Veterinary Surgery (Exemptions) Order 2015, remedial treatment by ‘physiotherapy’ requires delegation by a veterinary surgeon who has first examined the animal. ‘Physiotherapy’ is interpreted as including all kinds of manipulative therapy. It therefore includes osteopathy and chiropractic but would not, for example, include acupuncture or aromatherapy. It is up to the professional judgment of the veterinary surgeon to determine whether and when a clinical examination should be repeated before musculoskeletal treatment is continued.

c) The delegating veterinary surgeon should ensure, before delegation, that they are confident that the musculoskeletal therapist is appropriately qualified and competent; indicators can include membership of a voluntary register with associated standards of education and conduct, supported by a disciplinary process. As the RCVS does not regulate musculoskeletal therapists it cannot recommend specific voluntary registers.

d) Musculoskeletal maintenance care for a healthy animal, for instance massage, does not require delegation by a veterinary surgeon. However, the animal must still be registered with a veterinary surgeon. Maintenance should cease and the owner of the animal should be asked to take their animal to a veterinary surgeon for clinical examination at the first sign that there may be any underlying injury, disease or pathology. Alternatively, the musculoskeletal therapist may ask the client for formal consent to disclose any concerns to the veterinary surgeon that has their animal under their care.

This has come about as a result of RAMP Council consultation with DEFRA and the RCVS around clarification for veterinary consent for Competition and Maintenance Care.

To reiterate, the only difference to current practice is in point d). An animal declared healthy by the owner, in cases where care is given to maintain good health and optimise competition performance, can be seen without specific Veterinary referral with the caveats stated. This covers the areas of Maintenance care and Competition care ONLY.

This clarification will ease the current legal grey area and hope it will improve communication between MSK Practitioners and the Veterinary Profession. ANY pathology must be reported back to the animals registered vet immediately.

The Latest COVID News From RAMP

Here is the latest release from RAMP regarding animal practice following the latest Government guidelines:

Following Government guidelines we move back into a lockdown in England and restrictions within other parts of the country. We expect that many of you have found ways to work while adhering to the guidelines of social distancing, PPE and risk assessments to date but we now need to be aware of the increased restrictions.In the absence of further restrictions advised by the RCVS I would just reiterate that each practitioner should continue to risk assess cases on an individual basis whilst maintaining safe working practice within the National restrictions/guidance.

As a reminder these were the details that we sent out in April during the first phase;-

To guide you here are some points that should be taken into account:

1. Animals with demonstrable pain and welfare issues should be seen, these may include all pathologies.

2. A pre-visit risk assessment and telephone call is essential. Gain as much information prior to the visit as possible to minimise contact time. If appropriate, would the use of an oral sedative, supplied by the clients’ vet to the client, mitigate risk? Do you have access to a responsible ‘safe’ handler that can attend with you?

3. No appointments should be made with anyone who has Covid symptoms or who is in close contact with anyone with Covid symptoms. There must be a 14-day quarantine period for them, prior to seeing them. Consider the suitability of wearing a mask to reduce the risk of the practitioner spreading Covid between yards/clients. Consider asking owners/handlers to wear masks to reduce the risk of transmission to the practitioner.

4. If you have symptoms do not treat, get tested, and await a clear result, prior to seeing any clients.

5. Animals with owners in the vulnerable categories should not be treated in the normal way. Try to see if any other approach other than face to face can be used.

6. Small animals should be seen in a clinic setting, (physio or vet) rather than home visits if possible, as cleanliness, disinfection and biosecurity are easier to control. If home visits are necessary, ensure that no other pets/family etc are present. In a clinic setting explore the possibility of treatment without owner present. Risk asses home visits very carefully.

7. Yard visits- Risk assess individual setups. As a professional you will be aware of the situations, and risks, at each of your regular yards. Some may be relatively ‘safe’, others less so. The decision to attend a client should be dictated by the risk assessment.

8. Home/yard visits, ask for gates to be opened and closed for you to minimise touching surfaces. No loose dogs/cats around that could transmit virus via petting, ensure animal is ready and waiting for you (ie no putting on headcollars, leads etc and unnecessary handling of owners equipment), carry your own soap and towels to wash between visits and ask for a fresh bucket of warm water or easy access to sink to wash. Accept no refreshments.

9. Other considerations, can the animal be left tied up with the owner at an appropriate distance? If not, are there any other strategies to improve safety and appropriately handle and restrain the animal. Is this a safe approach for you, the client and the animal?

10. Is this animal safe to treat with these restrictions in place?

11. All visits should be risk assessed and the results documented. Including those where treatment is refused and the reasons why, with documented details of the explanation to the client.

12. Only see regular clients if possible, this reduces the risk to you and the clients and eases the process of risk assessment. Do not ‘poach’ another practitioners’ clients.13. For new referrals of non-regular clients have a close liaison with the vet re the risks and set up of the treatment environment, not just the clinical condition.

14. Payment- attempt to remove the need to handle payments. Request payment by BACS/credit card/paypal.This is not an exhaustive list of all the possible considerations and scenarios but some guidance. Your professional judgement and expert opinion should be used at all stages to ensure yours and the client’s safety while also minimising the risks of spreading Covid 19.

The professional judgement of the practitioner, based on a thorough risk assessment, should always lead the decision as to whether it is safe to attend and treat an animal. Remember to ask owners to list you as healthcare workers for the track and trace requirements including QR codes.