Sue Harmsworth, industry influencer and founder of ESPA, has brought together a group of leading training providers in the UK and Ireland to create the Standards Authority for Touch in Cancer Care (SATCC).
The SATCC’s mission is to offer a national standard, providing people touched by cancer access to appropriately qualified therapists who’re capable of catering to cancer sufferers’ individual needs and to provide a recognised platform for spas to find training courses.
The group’s advisory board has created an informed and jointly-agreed national standard which outlines guidelines for therapists on maintaining safe and effective methods of care while performing massages, facials, manicures, pedicures and other spa treatments on people affected by cancer. It features specific advice for therapists on how to prepare, plan and conduct cancer touch therapy as well as information regarding complex contra-indications such as heat and lymphedema, and how to handle these appropriately.
Evidence suggests one in two people born after 1970 in the UK are going to be touched by cancer. Massage therapy can be used to support people who’ve had cancer and has been proven to reduce anxiety and depression and improve sleep quality.
Yet despite this, a vast number of spas still turn away people touched by cancer – arguably at the time they need the most support – due to lack of knowledge and fear of liability. For this reason, some clients don’t inform their therapist they’ve had cancer, meaning massages can’t be adapted appropriately to meet their needs.
Speaking to Spa Business, Harmsworth says: “Historically therapists have been cautious when dealing with customers who’ve had cancer – they are carers and frightened of doing the wrong thing.
“The industry’s approach to serving those touched by cancer has been fragmented for many years, with consumers, trade, therapists and spas alike unsure of the terrain surrounding touch therapy and cancer. Ultimately, we have a responsibility to the therapist and the consumer to ensure they’re embraced by the wellness industry, rather than excluded.”
Motivation to create the SATCC also stems from a group concern over the dilution of therapist training and that many short courses are not advanced or comprehensive enough to sufficiently educate therapists to accommodate those affected by cancer.
Advisory board members share a combined 327 years worth of industry expertise and have trained well over 10,000 therapists (see box). “The passionate, well-educated and incredibly experienced individuals on the advisory board make the SATCC a highly credible, independent, governing body that promotes the support of individuals touched by cancer,” says Harmsworth.
Online consumer spa directory SpaBreaks.com is partnering with SATCC to allow consumers to identify which spas have SATCC-accredited therapists who are capable of accommodating those who have experienced cancer.
SpaBreaks.com receives over one million consumer visits per month and lists more than 750 UK spas. A hundred spas on the website are already SATCC-approved and the goal is to reach 250 approved facilities by the end of 2020. These will be recognised under an SATCC-certified landing page – called Our Safe Hands Collection.
A partnership has also been struck with Think Tree Hub – an online professional association for complementary practitioners, course providers and the public seeking professional health treatments, CPD and accredited courses.
Think Tree Hub displays a register of professionals and their accreditations, making them discoverable by spas and consumers. Individual therapists, practitioners and small business spas will be able to apply to Think Tree Hub and be registered as SATCC-accredited once their licence, certificates and insurance information have been successfully approved.
Any therapist who is already trained by one of the SATCC advisory board’s training providers will automatically be SATCC-accredited and eligible to register online.
The website will also launch an SATCC web page directing visitors to SATCC-accredited training providers and courses.
Harmsworth concludes that the SATCC has plans to work with charities in the future to help support those touched by cancer by directing them to its accredited spas.