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How to set up your Clinic Room

With many clinics given the green light to re-open, we’ve updated this handy guide made in partnership with Katherine Creighton Crook of My Massage Mentor, to ensure you have everything you need ready to get back to work!

Well, here you are, about to step back into the treatment room and re-hang the “open for business” sign - it’s an exciting time for all!

Whether you’re opening up in a brand-new space, or making a few changes to your existing place, there is quite a lot to think about, isn't there?

In this five-part guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to set up or re-open your clinic room. Please note this guide is specifically for therapists specialising in bodywork, from physio/osteo/sports therapy to aromatherapy/hot stone massage/holistic massage. 

For your convenience, we’ve included links to various items in this article. You can also download a printable checklist to help you keep track of what you’ve got so far and what you need. To download the list, click here.

Treatment Room

If you’re looking for therapy room ideas, you’re in the right place!

There's enough for you to figure out on your own through trial and error, showing up on your first day and realising you forgot to buy towels won't be one of them!

Here's what we will cover:

  • Part 1: Things to Consider Before You Start Spending 
  • Part 2: The Checklists - Minimum and Optional Extras
  • Part 3: How to Choose Your Furniture & Therapy Supplies
  • Part 4: The Extra Bits and Bobs That Are Easily Forgotten
  • Part 5: Choosing Your Extras

Part 1: Before You Start Spending

This section is mainly for those opening up a new space, if your space has already been set up, you may want to skip to the next section.

There are two main things to consider before you start spending:

  1. What, if anything, is already provided?
  2. What vibe are you going for?

What's already provided?

Empty Clinic Room

Are you getting this?

Clinic Room

or this?

Depending on where you’re renting, you may have 90% of what you need already provided, or you may be starting with four blank walls and a floor. 

For this section of the guide, we’re assuming you’re starting with an empty (or almost empty) room.

Physique Clinic Guide

What vibe are you going for?

As mentioned, this guide is for therapists offering some type of bodywork. 

In the bodywork spectrum, you can be doing anything from super-relaxing, float-away-in-a-cloud massages to deep, sweat-through-the-exercises rehab. 

Your space needs to reflect your offering.

Fairy lights and flickering LED candles set a whimsical mood for relaxation clients looking to escape from the world, but they might make Joe-the-ACL-repair client anxious about your credentials. 

For every decision you make about the clinic, from choosing your massage table to what you put on the wall, ask yourself this question:

Does this make sense for the style of treatment I’ll be offering/ the identity of my business/brand?

Part 2: The Checklist

Your clinic essentials checklist

Click here to download your checklist

It’s divided into ‘you really need this’ and ‘may be nice to have now / down-the-line extras’. 

The rest of this guide explains what to consider when choosing each piece - some obvious, some you probably didn’t think of (and may not have until you realise you need it, which is often too late).

Don’t forget to tick off any of the items you know are already provided where you’re renting (if any) before continuing.

Download Your Checklist

Part 3: Furniture & therapy supplies

Things like choosing a couch seem easy... Until you search ‘massage couch’ on Google... Do you get a new one? A used one? A hydraulic one? A lightweight one?

So let’s start with that.

Massage Couch

Massage Table

Obviously, if you’re doing bodywork you need a massage table or a treatment table.

A great place to start is by answering these three questions:

  • Portable or Hydraulic/electric?

  • Big and cushy or minimal/clinical?

  • New or used?

Physique Tharapy Couch

Portable or hydraulic/electric couch?

While a hydraulic table will make certain techniques and working with certain populations easier, I have worked with a portable table (i.e. one that’s height adjustable but not height adjustable DURING the treatment) for 10 years and have not missed it!

View All Portable Couches

 

Treatment Room

So if you’re just starting out, you should be fine with a portable table, unless you’re working in one of these three situations:

  1. You’re working with a population that might have some trouble getting up on your table (for example, people with mobility issues).
  2. You have mobility issues (like you can’t easily get up on a table or go into certain body-saving positions like a lunge or squat) so need the extra help of in-session height adjustability.
  3. You definitely want to have one eventually and you have the money now (there’s no point in spending £100 or £200 now and £800-£1000 later if you can buy it now).
Seers Hydraulic Couch

On the other hand, I know a lot of practitioners swear that a hydraulic table saves their posture and makes a lot of their techniques a lot easier. 

Just bear in mind that if you don’t have the money for it, it doesn’t mean you’re offering sub-par treatments.

View All Hydraulic & Electric Couches

Physique Clinic Guide

Big and Cushy or Minimal and Clinical?

Let’s be honest - you already know which of these you want. 

You’ve either trained somewhere that encouraged you to use those comfy, wide wood-framed tables so you can get up on the table and your clients have a ton of space for their arms.

Or you trained somewhere with narrow aluminium tables that are easy to manoeuvre and easier to work across the table without getting on it. 

View All Couches

Before you get any table though...

  1. Measure your room with a tape measure.
  2. Figure out where your table needs to go and how much space you have for it.
  3. Check the measurements of the table you want to buy online.
Physique Clinic Guide

New or Used?

If you can swing it, a new table will last you longer so you’ll get more life out of it than a used one.

Especially considering you just don’t know for sure (unless your table comes with a full ‘service history’) how old that table or is how respectfully it’s been used.

But we understand that after a hard year, budgets may be a tad tighter so a used couch is a great option too!

You can always plan on purchasing a new one when you get a bit busier if needed.

True story: I started with a used table that was nice and comfy and it lasted me for about a year, when I thought, hmm… I’ll get a nice, new Physique table… this one, actually… at CAMExpo.

As I came back from CamExpo that day, one of my therapists who had been working that day texted me to tell me that our used massage table had cracked - just when he was leaning on it - and was totalled.

Thank goodness that hadn’t happened with a client on it!

The point of the story is, fate might not be so kind to you as to wait for your used table to break until you’ve purchased a new one, so being proactive in this case is a good idea.

Physique Stool

Additional Furniture

You’ll really want a stool with wheels in pretty much every therapy setting. We use the Therapy Stool at our clinic and it’s served us well over the years.

You should also have somewhere for your clients to sit.

Some clinics choose cushy chairs like these bowl ones, but they take up a lot of space in a room AND can be hard for mobility-compromised people to use.

Using a simple dining chair from somewhere like Argos or Ikea take less space, are easier to get in and out of, and can double up for chair/seated techniques you don’t want to climb on the table for.

View Additional Furniture

You also need a space for clients to put their rings, watches, wallets, etc. that doubles as a good place for any promotional materials and tissues.

If you get a drawer/shelf side table, you’ll have a piece that functions as both a table and storage (perfect if you need to make the best use of your space).

And of course, hangers or hooks to hang up coats or other clothes (for the clients who don’t just throw everything on the floor!).

Clinic Supplies

Therapy Supplies

And almost every therapist will have a few extras they need. 

View Treatment Supplies

While it would be impossible for us to list every therapy supply that a therapist might need depending on their individual offerings, here's a handy tip to make sure you’re not forgetting anything:

Mentally walk through a treatment with your client, from start to finish, and write down anything you use when going through the treatment. That’s the best way to make sure you don’t forget any essential therapy supplies.

 

Part 4: Other Supplies

Now that we’ve got the big stuff out of the way, it’s time to look at all the bits and bobs you need for a well-equipped room. 

Believe it or not, this is actually more important to go through than the furniture section!

Most practitioners aren’t likely to forget they need a massage table or a stool. 

But pens? Or a clipboard? It’s these little things that often get overlooked in the rush of getting everything set up. 

And now more than ever, it's essential to have all your Hygiene Essentials and PPE supplies ready for action.

Physique Couch Rolls

Linen/Paper

OBVIOUSLY, couch roll

While there may be a small number of practitioners who use a new set of couch cover after every client, couch roll is a must for most practitioners. 

Make sure you get the 50cm wide roll - the shorter one is not best suited for massage tables. 

Most clinic supply companies offer a discount if you order over a certain amount (like Physique whose rolls are £2.45 when you buy 9 or more) but make sure you know where you’ll put the extra rolls before you order them or your room will look like a couch roll tornado rolled through - couch roll-ageddon if you will.

View All Couch Rolls

Physique Navy Towels

Towels

You’ll need large bath sheets to comfortably cover clients, unless you’re using bed sheets (yes, that’s a thing), and hand towels.

Hand towels are great because they can function as hair covers, foot covers, chest covers, AND for drying your hands.

How many to order

When ordering towels, you should estimate how many clients you’re likely to see a week, and therefore how many towels, and start with that –

You'll probably need more later, but there’s no point in ordering 20 towels if you’ll only be seeing 5 clients a week due to the restrictions. 

View All Towels

What colour?

While this is kind of true for all cloth products at your clinic, it’s especially true for towels. 

Choose a colour and stick with it.

While a rainbow of towel colours might seem like a good idea, you only need to have your haircut in a salon that uses every colour under the sun to know how unprofessional it can look. 

Our clinic chose navy because it’s easier to find couch covers and bolsters that are navy vs any other colour, but you can have one colour couch covers and another colour towels, as long as all the towels are the same colour. 

White is another popular choice, but if you use any sort of oil in your practice, you may want to avoid it. Oil stains white towels really easily, and oil-stained white towels never really look clean. 

Whatever colour you choose, commit to that colour for both large towel bath sheets and hand towels. 

Clinell Hand Sanitiser

Hygiene, PPE and Cleaning

We know how important it is to maintain a high standard of hygiene when dealing with patients so we’ve put together a great selection of versatile PPE Products from gloves to masks, goggles, visors, hand sanitiser, wipes and disinfectant spray.

And don’t forget a rubbish bin and bin liners (sounds obvious, but often overlooked).

View All PPE & Hygiene Supplies

Physique Clinic Guide

Stationery

If you order business cards with space for appointments on the back, you’ll have a dual-purpose business card. 

Having one or two clipboards mean you have a backup if a client breaks one and you won’t have to give them a book to lean on to fill out their intake form. 

Always plan to have about 20 pens - even when you always ask for them back from clients they can go missing easily. 

Physique Clinic Guide

Storage

Good storage is the difference between a streamlined, clean looking clinic and one that looks messy and distracting.

The storage you need will depend on the space you have.

some rooms come with a sink so you have under-sink storage, others have built-in bookshelves.

  • Plastic boxes that fit under your massage table are great!
  • Some sort of shelf is good for books, anatomical models, and flyers and business cards.
  • A lockable one or 2-drawer filing cabinet for documents.

You’ll need to store any paper related to clients in a secure space - you can buy one or two-drawer filing cupboards that lock or take documents home (but make sure wherever they’re kept they’re secure as per data protection legislation).

The size of filing storage you need will depend on whether you plan to keep electronic or paper treatment notes for your clients.

Remember that you need an information security policy to be in line with data protection legislation, and a lockable filing cabinet is a good part of that policy.

Card payments

Payment Options

There is absolutely nothing wrong with just taking cash - I ran my clinic as a cash business for the first year or so. 

But the truth is most people expect businesses to be able to take card payments nowadays. Especially as it's more hygienic than handling cash. 

You can order a card machine and set up a merchant account from your bank, or you can use PayPal or iZettle for mobile card payments.

The key here is to do your research and see what all the charges are - usually, there’s a cost for the card machine, a percentage taken of sales and a flat fee you pay every month, or some combination of that. 

Payment transaction fees must be included in your prices - as of early 2018 businesses are not able to charge card payment fees on top of published prices, unless you charge a fee for all payments you take. 

Part 5: Optional Bits

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s talk about some extras. 

Physique Clinic Guide

Room Decor

The pictures you choose can really improve the mood and open up the room. 

My first clinic room didn’t have anything but an anatomy poster on the wall for the first year or two, and once I added two canvases in-line with my clinic’s identity, it really opened up the place and actually made the room feel bigger. 

A mirror is important if you do any sort of assessment with your clients - it’s nice for them to see what changes before and after. Having a reflective surface where people can un-smudge their mascara or re-arrange their hair before they leave will be appreciated.

Physique Clinic Guide

Anatomical Posters/Models

If you do any sort of technical work, having muscle or nerve charts, or models of joints you work on, can help clients picture what you’re talking about when you work with them, and give an air of professionalism to your room.

Anatomical Posters/Models

Clinic room music

Music

If you have internet, you may not need to purchase anything for your room as there are services where you can stream license-free music.

Otherwise, an mp3 player or CD player with a selection of CD’s works just as well. Don’t forget: certain music requires you to pay for a music license if you play music in your place of business - this includes playing the radio. 

If you choose license-free music, you won’t need to pay any license.

For great license-free music, I recommend iChill or DavGar.

Fleece Cover Set

Make it comfier

Your client’s comfort should always be a priority for you - even if you’re doing some of the more intense bodywork. 

Here are some options you can use to make your client’s experience a more comfortable one: 

Fleece Couch Cover

Electric heated blanket

Warm, fleecy blanket

View Comfort Products

Putting a fleece couch cover underneath your normal couch cover adds a layer of cushion that makes your massage table a lot more comfortable.

If appropriate, a large fleece blanket or comfy duvet is a snuggly way to help your client feel nurtured - especially if you have clients that tend to have drops in temperature during treatments.

If you really want to wow your clients, you could try having a heated blanket underneath your couch cover.

It’s especially good for winter months or if you’d like to warm up the muscles in the other side of the body while you’re working on one side.

Just remember to exercise the normal amount of caution when using anything electronic, e.g. having your electronic items PAT tested each year and check the temperature before clients get on the table to ensure it’s not too hot for them. 

Now You’re Ready!

While there may be other things you need to add for your own specific therapy (like, ultrasound for physio, needles for acupuncture, hot stones for hot stone massage) this guide should give you the basics to get started or re-open again and make sure you have what you need on your first day. 

Here’s the checklist again if you’d like to download a printable version.

All the best on your exciting journey... now get out there and get started.

Katherine Creighton Crook

This guest post was provided by Katherine Creighton Crook, the founder & principal therapist at Leyton Sports Massage and creator of My Massage Mentor.

My Massage Mentor helps massage therapists who want to spend more time with clients they love and less time working on the business side of things get there faster.

For more info visit My Massage Mentor

My Massage Mentor

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