Veterinary medicine can by a physically and emotionally demanding job, and it’s not surprising that respondents to the 2013 Firstline Veterinary Team Trends Study report they sometimes struggle to perform some physical tasks.
If you’re a team member with a disability or a medical issue, whether it’s a mobility problem or even a short-term condition such as a broken bone or pregnancy, obtaining a doctor’s note is a good place to start because it helps your manager understand your condition and limitations, says Marianne Mallonee, CVPM, a Firstline Editorial Advisory Board member and hospital administrator and part owner of Wheat Ridge Animal Hospital in Wheat Ridge, Colo.
7 steps to help disabled clients
Even if your practice doesn’t have any team members who need adaptations, you likely have clients who could use more attention. Making your practice more convenient for them makes it easier for pet owners to provide the care you recommend. Sharon DeNayer, a Firstline board member and practice manager at Windsor Veterinary Clinic in Windsor, Colo., offers up these easy adaptations every practice should make for disabled people and their pets:
1. Assign at least one parking place for the disabled. Be sure the special signage is easy to see. And have at least one of your entrance doors accessible to wheelchairs.
2. Build a culture of caring and sensitivity. Train your team accordingly. For example:
3. Find alternatives when needed. If your exam room is not large enough for a wheelchair, then find another place where the pet’s exam can be done. The client deserves to be with the pet when examinations and treatments are done.
4. Consider your seating. Seats in the reception room and examination room should have arms on them to make sitting down and getting up easy.
5. Help the home-bound. Offer to deliver pet food, medicine and supplies to them.
6. Arrange a ride. If the pet owner can’t drive, offer transportation for the client and pet to and from your practice.
7. Use a large font on written materials. People with visual problems will appreciate being able to read your handouts.