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What is involved?

Covid-19 security

This section reproduces the text provided by the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC), to all BAcC member practitioners, intended to be printed and included as an insert-slip to the BAcC's own leaflets (as displayed in my treatment room).
For my own specifics, see My own Covid-19 procedures below.

Additional information about having acupuncture: Covid-19 security

Before your appointment

Your practitioner will need to check whether it is safe to treat you at the moment. They will ask you a few questions by telephone, email or video call, including:

  • do you have symptoms of Covid-19 infection
  • are you considered ‘clinically vulnerable’ or ‘extremely clinically vulnerable’ and so at greater risk

If your practitioner decides it is not safe for you to come to the clinic they will explain why. As an alternative, they may offer to treat you by telephone or video call.

Before giving any treatment, your practitioner will ask you to read and sign a consent form. You must return your completed form before your appointment can go ahead.

One of the usual diagnostic procedures for acupuncture involves looking at your tongue. Due to the possible risks at this time your practitioner may ask you to take a picture of your tongue and send it to them before you go to the clinic.

Going to the clinic

Special arrangements are now in place to safeguard you when you go for acupuncture.

Please follow whatever directions you are given, including:

  • travel light and take very little with you into the clinic – if possible, leave bags, coats, etc in the car
  • go to the clinic alone, unless you need a chaperone, parent or carer
  • try to arrive on time – not early or late
  • follow any advice displayed at the clinic
  • where possible, use contactless payment

During your treatment

Your practitioner will wear some form of personal protective equipment (PPE) when they treat you. They will also explain exactly what you need to do in the treatment room, including:

  • where and when to wash your hands
  • whether and when to wear a mask, either your own or one provided by the clinic
  • any other hygiene and safety procedures

After your appointment

If you develop Covid-19 symptoms or have a confirmed diagnosis of Covid-19 within two weeks of having acupuncture, please immediately inform:

  • NHS test and trace service
  • your acupuncturist

For more information:

British Acupuncture Council
63 Jeddo Road London W12 9HQ
+44 (0)20 8735 0400
info@acupuncture.org.uk
www.acupuncture.org.uk

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My own Covid-19 procedures

Details of new procedures to protect against transmission of Covid-19

Following guidance and advice from my professional body, I have established procedures for myself and visitors to follow, with regard to reducing contact and droplet spread of the Covid-19 virus, to maximise the safety of ourselves and others.

Please read the following section before coming to visit. I hope that, between us, we can be thorough and diligent, without falling prey to worry.

If you have any further questions, please let me know.

New patients

Before accepting you as a new patient, I will:

  • Establish whether you (and people in your household and/ or bubble) are at ‘high risk’ of developing severe illness as per NHS Inform; and also whether you have general respiratory problems.
  • Establish that you are happy to wear a face covering when you visit me. After an assessment of risk, conducted in order to minimise the transmission of Covid-19, in this practice it will only be possible to admit clients who are able to wear face-coverings. If this is not possible and you claim a legal exemption from wearing a face-covering, I will be happy to provide you with details of a practitioner who will be able to see you. This is a decision made solely on the basis of a risk assessment of the individual circumstances of my practice.
  • Establish whether you need to be accompanied in your visits, by chaperone, parent or carer.
  • Then make a professional clinical judgement with regards the likely benefit of treatment versus the increase in risk of you visiting me.
  • Ask you for written consent to me approaching you in a non-socially-distanced manner in order to provide treatment. Your visit will involve 'close contact', and will make you and I each reportable under the government's 'Test and Protect' initiative should either of us develop symptoms of Covid-19 within 48 hours.
  • Provide you with information on my Covid-19 procedures and what is expected of you in this regard.

New and existing patients

If you or someone you live with develops symptoms of Covid-19 before the time of the appointment, please contact me promptly.

In any case, the day before your visit, I will contact you to screen for Covid-19 infection risk; this will involve asking you some simple questions about your temperature, cough, sense of taste and smell, recent travel, and the like. I will also ask the same about other members of your household, and about people you have been in contact with.

We may use these calls, or video-conferencing where appropriate, to conduct some of the conversation necessary to inform the treatment, and to reduce the amount of conversation required when we are together.

You may like to note my phone numbers, or set your phone to recognise them, to avoid unnecessary missed calls.

Existing patients will also be asked for written consent, as New patients above, before their first visit under these procedures.

During times of heightened alert, such as the Level 4 ‘stay at home’ regime in early 2021, I will be unable to meet with you.

At all times, the decision whether or not to meet will be mine, based on assessment of known and unknown risks, and on my professional clinical judgment.

What to bring

Please bring with you:

  • Face covering if you have one; if not, I will provide
  • Wee bottle of hand sanitiser if you have one; if not, I will provide
  • Chequebook for payment (no cash). I don't have a contactless card reader, but we can discuss BACS and PayPal transfers, if that's easier

You might also want to bring your own:

  • Water bottle in case you get thirsty

Anything you need to bring in with you will be placed in a wipeable plastic storage box provided for the purpose, which will be disinfected between patients. Having said that, it will help if you can pack light; if you come by car, leave your other things there.

On arrival

Appointments are timed such that you will not encounter other visitors. It will help greatly if you can come to the door at the appointed time, neither early nor late. There is nowhere indoors where early arrivals can wait.

Please come to the door alone; there is currently nowhere indoors for companions to sit and wait during your treatment. If you need to bring a chaperone, parent or carer, to sit in on your treatment, I will discuss this with you beforehand, and establish whether your visit is advisable.

On arrival, I will ask again about your temperature, cough, sense of taste and smell, recent travel, and the like.

I will also take your temperature at the forehead using an infrared-sensor thermometer.

In the treatment room, you'll be able to pop your things in the storage box, and separately we'll both wash our hands.

You and I will each wear face coverings. If you have your own, please bring one, otherwise I will provide. Wash hands before fitting it; sanitise after.

This video on hand washing from the Department of Health and Social Care is a useful tool.

My wearing of surgical gloves and/ or apron will be at my discretion.

Two-metre social distancing between you and me is not consistent with effective acupuncture treatment, hence the need for the additional consent and precautions mentioned above. You are unlikely to encounter anyone else while you're here, but if you do, you should maintain a two-metre distance from them.

Please note that by attending the appointment you give consent to me identifying you to the Test and Protect service should the need arise; see my Privacy Notice, item 13, for details.

During treatment

If you need to sneeze or cough while you're here, do so into a disposable tissue and throw it away immediately. Wash your hands immediately after doing so.

Regarding other aspects of the acupuncture treatment, my standard hygiene procedures will be followed.

You are welcome to wear additional PPE (personal protective equipment) while you are here, if you feel the need, and you are encouraged to voice any concerns you have at any time.

Departure

Before you go, we'll discuss what to do in the event of either of us getting symptoms of Covid-19 in the following 48 hours, and the implications of the government's Test and Protect scheme.

Wash your hands before leaving the clinic.

In the background

While you're not here, rigorous additional cleaning routines will be followed, in scheduled time between patient visits and throughout the day. These will include, but not be limited to, all contact surfaces such as couches, chairs, door handles, toilet areas, and hard floors.

These procedures are under constant review, and any changes will be made first on my website, and thereafter issued to new patients as part of their introductory mailing.

Updates:

This section last updated - 26 Apr 21

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Traditional diagnosis

The first Acupuncture session is normally a thorough assessment of your present condition, based on Traditional Acupuncture principles - the Traditional Diagnosis - and may take up to 2 hours. This session may or may not include treatment. In either case, many people find it very helpful to simply take the time to examine, and become aware of, the patterns in their life.

As well as giving you the chance to explain the detail of your medical history (including current medication) and family background, Wallace will encourage you to describe your sleep, your diet, your digestion, your likes and dislikes, your hopes and expectations.

Pulse Lores The assessment includes a physical examination which normally includes taking the pulse at the wrists, looking at your tongue, palpation of your abdomen, and so on. You may be asked to undress to underwear; blankets are provided for comfort and modesty.

It is helpful if you can attend without fragrance or make-up, if possible. Try not to come within an hour of a large meal, and try not to have recently taken food or drink which colours the tongue (eg coffee).

If you are receiving treatment from your General Practitioner or other health practitioner, it is sensible and courteous to let them know of your plans to have Traditional Acupuncture. If you are taking medication and would rather take less or stop, it is very important that you discuss this with your prescribing physician, who may be only too pleased to help. You should let Wallace know about any medication you are taking, as it may affect your response to treatment.

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Treatment visits

Treatment sessions are normally up to one-hour in length. Treatment is carried out with needles and moxa as appropriate. Wallace will continuously re-evaluate your condition, as the relief of initial symptoms may reveal underlying patterns of imbalance not originally evident.

Treatments are usually weekly for the first few visits. This gives you the chance to gain some momentum, and gives Wallace the chance to ensure that the treatment is properly tailored to your needs. Thereafter, treatments can be arranged fortnightly, monthly, or at intervals to suit you.

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How many visits?

No-one can say how many treatments you will need. It depends how much better you want to get.

Some people are satisfied with the improvement after two or three treatments. Many others find that the treatment for their 'main complaint' has had positive side-effects, and they wish to continue with treatment on a regular basis indefinitely, like going for a check-up.

It's a good idea to be prepared for five or six treatments, by which time it should be clear whether you are noticing the improvement you had hoped for.

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N is for Needles

Yes, acupuncture involves needles. These are not like the needles used by the doctor for injections, or the nurse for blood tests. In their needles, the important bit is the hole up the middle, so the needle needs to be that much fatter; the needles also need to be robust enough to penetrate to the required depth. Acupuncture needles are extremely thin, and are solid and quite flexible. All are pre-packed sterilised disposable needles, safely disposed by a reputable contractor. Needle insertion is well-practiced and very gentle.

Needles BackNeedles are inserted into acupuncture points, at specific locations on the channels where the qi can be effectively accessed. A millimetre either side can make all the difference between properly accessing the chosen point, or not. When the needle reaches the point, it's not uncommon to feel a slight sensation, often described as a tingling, or a dull ache, and which generally fades quickly. Depending on the intention of the practitioner, needles may be inserted and removed straight away, or they may be inserted and left in for a while.

Because treatment is tailored to the needs of you as a unique individual, the points used will vary between individuals, even those presenting with what appears to be the same complaint. The points used may or may not be near to where the problem appears to be. For example, problems in the trunk or head may be treated using points on the hands or feet.

Treatment may also include the use of moxa. This is a smouldering herb, derived from Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris). Various grades may be used, according to desired effect. Moxa may be placed on or near the skin or the needles in order to warm the points up, often prior to but sometimes instead of needling. The skin is protected from excessive heat.

Moxa Cone

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Possible side effects

Many people report feeling relaxed, sometimes combined with feelings of tiredness after the first treatment or two, and being energised after subsequent treatments.

Acupuncture is generally regarded as being extremely safe, as it allows, rather than imposes, change. Any treatment that works will affect the way you feel. It's easy to call these changes 'good' if they make you feel better and 'bad' if they make you feel worse. However, even if your symptoms worsen for a while, that is a sign that something is changing within you. Without some change, how can there be healing?

Changes that make you feel worse are very unlikely to persist for more than 48 hours after treatment. Such short-term reactions should be reported at your next appointment. If, however, you still feel 'not right' three or more days later, please phone to discuss whether a sooner repeat appointment (for which there may be no charge) might be appropriate.

Effects that may be noticed include:

  • Drowsiness: this may occur after treatment in a small number of patients. You would be wise not to drive if you feel drowsy. This is often indistinguishable from an unfamiliar sense of relaxation.
  • Fainting is an occasional possibility, particularly at the first treatment. Patients who know they are prone to fainting should let Wallace know. In any case, you will be positioned and monitored in ways to ensure that if you do faint, the potential for harm is minimal.
  • Pain: very rarely does treatment cause pain, as distinct from the sensation of the needling itself.
  • If there are particular risks that apply in your case, Wallace will discuss these with you.

Tolerance to alcohol and exercise may be lowered after treatment. It's a good idea to not plan for a late night, or anything too strenuous, on the day of a treatment. Rest and relax if you can, and let the treatment work. Even if you feel energised after treatment, that energy may be better stored within you to improve your health rather than spent straight away on hard work or a session in the gym.

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Can I give blood after acupuncture?

The short answer is no, not within 4 months of treatment.

The longer answer is that the NHS Blood Transfusion Service are the authority on this, and their web page about Who Can't Give Blood? currently (Jun 2014) says that you should not give blood if 'you have had acupuncture in the last 4 months, unless this was done within the NHS or by a qualified Healthcare Professional registered with a statutory body'.

The guidlines behind this are also online, at page about 'complementary therapy' in general, and this lists the statutory bodies who are recognised in this regard. The British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) is not one of them.

Statutory regulation for acupuncture is currently off the political agenda, in part because the standards set by the BAcC for its members are so high that there is no strong sense of a need for any further regulation. BAcC members are among the safest health practitioners (of any discipline) in the country.

The BAcC are in discussion with the Blood Transfusion Service to see if they will recognise this safety record; the BTS require evidence that satisfies their own criteria, and this all takes time. For now, you will not be able to give blood until 4 months after treatement with Wallace, and this situation is unikely to change in the forseeable future.

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What can I do to help myself?

Moderation and variety are basic to health. As your treatment progresses you may find ways of applying these principles to your diet, medication (in consultation with your prescribing doctor), exercise, sleep, habits, and so on.

General guidelines are useful starting points:

  • Five portions of fresh fruit or vegetables daily
  • 2 litres of fresh water daily
  • 30 minutes of aerobic exercise twice a week
  • Eight hours sleep a night
  • For women, less than 14 units of alcohol per week
  • For men, less than 21 units of alcohol per week
  • Cut down or stop smoking
  • Learn to relax (stress is a major contributor to a lower immune response)
  • Smile

There are no strict rules; you will have to find out what is right for you. Finding out the appropriate way for you to live your life is part of the process of recovering and improving your health.

During times of restriction in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, a few oher thoughts may be helpful:

  • Staying active and getting fresh air is important for physical and mental wellbeing. Whatever your normal exercise routine, home practise, or a brisk session in the fresh air each day (even if only in front of an open window), can also bring rewards. You may find pleasant things to do in the garden, if you have access, and weather permitting.
  • Regarding eating well - in addition to what we ingest as food, let's include what we ingest as information. Be careful of bingeing on news, and seek out positivity and self-empowerment where you can.
  • Social contacts can be maintained remotely - we may find ourselves keeping more in contact by telephone.
  • We may even enjoy reading, or resting.
  • This time will pass. Find balance.
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What does it cost?

Traditional Acupuncture with Wallace offers excellent value for money:

  • Free 'no-obligation quote' consultation - usually 10-15 mins - FREE
  • Traditional Diagnosis - normally about 2 hrs - £70.00
  • Treatment visits - normally about 1 hr - £50.00

Payment is normally by cheque on the day.

Payment by e-banking is available for regular patients, and for those with a smartphone, Wallace also accepts payment by PayPal and Paym

Alas, no payment by plastic card.

Home visits may be possible by special arrangement, but cannot be guaranteed.
Appointments missed or cancelled at less than 24 hours notice may be charged in whole or in part.

Wallace is not a registered provider with any private healthcare scheme. Policy holders are advised to check with their providers what can be claimed, and how. Receipts are provided on request.

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