Find out how we are supporting the continuation of weight clinics during this current environment.
The recent PAW report* shows that obesity in pets is on the rise. Owners have been feeding more treats and human food since the start of the lockdowns and vets have identified that obesity is one of the top 5 welfare issues that need to be addressed in the UK population. The good news is, 63% of pet owners still look to vet or vet nurse advice to decide if their pet is the right weight.
These conversations can be a challenge, and more so now with the current lockdowns and extra pressure on staff availability. We know vet practices have and are continuing to see less (or no) weight clinics in practice with the current pressures and are moving to holding their weight clinics online, so we have designed some tools to help assist those starting or already undertaking remote weight consultations:
The 30 Minute Weight Consultation flip chart now also available in a digital format!
The flip charts help to provide the weight clinic with some structure and provides visual aides for pet owners.
Download the Pet Owner Flip Chart – show this during your virtual call with pet owners.
Download the Vet Flip Chart – use this alongside the pet owner version.
You can also continue to order printed materials to assist with your face to face consultations, through your Veterinary Business Manager.
What are your communication options?
Socially distanced visit – Enables you to see the pet and talk the client (good combined with phone consult)
Video calling – Enables you to Body Condition Score (BCS) the pet, keeps the communication personal and enables you to see what happens at dinner time…
Phone calling – Enables you to keep client motivated
Texting – Fast, efficient and cheap way to keep in touch, ok for motivation interspersed with other communications
Emailing – Client can send in food diary or confessions sheet
Group Video meeting – Invite all potential pet owners for a zoom meeting to explain the importance of weight management, efficient use of time, ability for client to be anonymous and ability to offer follow up private appointments to those who want to start a weight management program
Building rapport in a virtual world
Decide on your protocol for your weight clinic
- Who will do them
- How you’ll do them
Include Reception staff
- So they know what is offered, by whom and when to offer
- By email, on your SM page, website
- Paid posts can be useful to reach anyone who already liked your page
- Include photos of consultations to demonstrate/case studies
Set Client expectations:
- Step by step guide
- What to expect
- Client testimonials
- Social Channels
- Communicate regularly
Bring people to life:
If staff will be meeting people in person less and less, it’s time to bring them to life in other ways.
- Via social media
- Any special interests
- Your own pets
- Bring yourself to life
- Anything you’ve had published
Preparation before the clinic:
- Check your wifi
- Check mic and video enabled
- Keep a cuddly toy to hand to demonstrate with
- Ideally use a laptop or pc
- Cats in the same room and to hand
- Dogs on a lead
- Ideally use a smart phone or tablet
Gather as much information as you can beforehand
- Do as much as you can before the virtual consultation to get whatever information you may need.
- You can email your patient any questionnaires, any registration forms if they are new, ask them to send in any images if necessary, etc.
- Make it as easy as possible for them to provide you with the right type of information.
- You could create a video of a member of your own team taking photos of their animal to show them how best to do it, or share the kinds of images you will need. This will make the virtual appointment more efficient.
Give yourself more time for appointments
- This will also help with building rapport. Patients are going to want to talk about their, and your, experience of COVID-19 and you might need to talk about changes you’re making/have made in the practice.
- Build in some extra time to allow for that more personal, human conversation. You may also need to explain things in more detail than you would if you were physically together.
- Creating longer appointments will mean there should be less stress if you do find that they take more time.
- Maintaining eye contact is hard when you need to look into a camera, but look often
- Keep your body posture open
- Maintain a friendly demeanor
- Remember that you can be seen!
- Treat it like a normal, face to face consult
- Wherever you’re conducting your clinic, use a quiet room and be aware of what’s behind you – make sure it looks neat and tidy and, if possible, have some surgery branding in the background.
- Choose a nice bright room and if there’s a window, sit facing towards it rather than in front of it, which will cast you in shadow.
- Turn your phone to silent mode and wear your uniform. Ultimately, your setting and you should look as professional as it would be if the patient was there with you.
Royal Canin Weight Management Clinic Nurse at the University of Liverpool Small Animal Teaching Hospital, Georgia Woods-Lee, shows in this film how to perform a body condition score:
Georgia has also recorded a version of this video demonstration specially for pet owners, click here to access the University of Liverpool’s video and share with your weight management clinic customers!
The Royal Canin Weight Management Referral Clinic at the University of Liverpool is an internationally renowned referral service for the management of overweight and obese pets, click here to read more about the clinic.