Clients with Special Needs

By Florence Barrett-Hill, CIDESCO, ITEC Diplomas. Independent Technical Educator & Author to the Professional Aesthetics IndustryBy Florence Barrett-Hill, CIDESCO, ITEC Diplomas. Independent Technical Educator & Author to the Professional Aesthetics Industry

Imagine if one or more of your senses became impaired or you lost mobility. The sense of touch experienced in manicure, pedicare, facial, or body massage would become particularly precious wouldn't it?

Women, who have suffered a stroke, are often left with a partial paralysis that affects an arm and leg of one side of their body. This means that simple things like cutting finger/toe nails and shaving legs or under the arms becomes very difficult without assistance. Feelings of the loss of their femininity are very strong and hinder recovery. Manicures, pedicures, waxing, brow tidies, in fact almost every service we have to offer as professionals is of benefit to women and men who have suffered a partial paralysis from any cause.

We are all familiar with visual impairment and how many of our clients cant see to do brow tidies and apply makeup. We know that lash & brow tints and tidies are some of the most popular treatments for women who have some visual impairment.

These simple services should be available to all disabled people all you have to do is become accessible to them.

Many main street stores are waking up to the fact that disabled shoppers have significant amounts of disability income to spend and direct marketing to disabled people could be a good move for some salons. However, is there really a market for disabled people in beauty services?

Indeed there is, and the hairdressing industry has known this, and been looking after disabled clients for years.

If I have raised your interest and you wish to tap into this market you can begin by looking at your premises to see whether or not renovations could be easily made. If your thinking of renting or buying new salon premises now is the time to think about access and facilities for future disabled clients. A first floor salon, unless there is a lift, excludes wheelchair users.

Begin by allowing access for wheelchairs when planing salon layout, and consider incorporating disability aids. It costs nothing to walk through your premises to see how access can be improved. For example high or steep front door steps are off putting for all but the your young and sprightly members of society. Borrow a wheelchair from an organisation such as the Red Cross and wheel (with some one in it) through and out of your salon. Rearrange furniture accordingly, fit access ramps over steps, and handrails are useful for elderly clients as well as the disabled.

Next is your treatment room, this will have to be large enough for a wheelchair to have access into and along side your treatment chair. Your treatment chair is probably after access the next most important item that you must look at and maybe change. It can be as simple as a lazy boy type of chair easy to get into, recline and get out. Alternatively, it could be a very elaborate hydraulic chair, but it still must have easy access as you may have to assist or lift the client into it.

This brings me to the subject of lifting and assisting disabled people, as you are aware there is a wrong and right way to lift anything. As part of our training, we all did a Red Cross course and were shown how to lift and transfer people, if you have forgotten, approach the Red Cross for a refresher course or literature to help you. Alternatively, a physiotherapist will be happy to share this knowledge with you.

If a disabled person has been embarrassed or discriminated against in some way, they will hesitate to venture where they may not be welcome. Once you are sure your premises really are accessible to disabled clients, a wheelchair friendly sticker indicates users are welcome. Contact local support organizations (stroke support group) notifying them that you facilities are wheelchair friendly and what services you have that would be of benefit to their members. Many of these support groups have monthly newsletters, I suggest you place an advertisement about your new facilities and services in one of them. Contact your local press and invite them to do a feature on how you have made you salon accessible to the disabled.

"How do you treat disabled clients?"

It is important to differentiate between mental and physical disability. Do not fall into the trap of lumping them together, as its quite illogical to assume a physical impairment is always accompanied by a mental impairment. If you broke both legs, it does not automatically affect your brain, does it?

So, assume wheelchair users have a normal intellectual capacity unless this is obviously not the case. Guard against mistaking shyness for lack of comprehension: some disabled people are accustomed to being disregarded and take a while to feel at home. After considering the practical constraints of the physical disability, disregard it, as far as possible. This means once you have wheeled your client round that tricky corner or helped her onto the treatment bed, treat her like any other.

Each is an individual: like able-bodied clients, some like a fuss, some hate it. Many probably fall into the latter category. As a physically disabled person experiences more nuisance in day to day life, this is how they expect to be treated, without a fuss. Some will want to discuss their disability and some will not, its best to keep inquires on a professional level and simply check for contraindications to the treatment just as you would for someone able-bodied. Do not make judgments about your disabled clients quality of life or try to make up for the disability by being extra nice. This type of behavior, arising from the best motives, only widens the gulf.

We all have our drawbacks but the physically disabled just happen to be visible for all to comment One last word of advice if in doubt about what to do or whether help is required, ask the disabled client: she is the real expert.


About the Author:

New Zealand born Florence Barrett-Hill is an internationally acclaimed independent dermal scientist, aesthetic technical educator, practitioner, researcher, and author with a vast experience covering all aspects of professional aesthetic therapy and paramedical skin care. Florence's internationally respected "Advanced Skin Analysis" training program is a breakthrough post-graduate curriculum launched in 1994, and was the first to recognise and teach the importance of linking skin structure and function to skin condition. It is the core of this training program that has provided the content for the book of the same name, first published in 2004.
More information about her e-learning and seminars can be found here:
Her books "Advanced Skin Analysis" and "Cosmetic Chemistry" can be purchased direct from the publisher:



Recommended Reading

Advanced Skin Analysis
is the book for the skin treatment therapist of the new millennium, taking therapists on a journey of discovery and revision of their chosen profession.
This book teaches you the most valuable skill every skin care professional needs to know. read more
Cosmetic chemistry is not another dictionary of cosmetic ingredients, but rather an informative look at understanding the subject of cosmetic chemistry from a Clinical Aesthetician and Beauty Therapist’s viewpoint.
Understand how the chemicals in the cosmetics interact with the skins own chemistry.
read more

The Visual Skin Analysis Diagnostic Indicator Guide has been developed to extend your visual analysis and consultation techniques of professional skin analysis, while helping communicate your findings with your clients. Covers 11 of the common contemporay skin conditions. read more