They say that new skills are best learned by first seeing, then doing. That’s exactly what the International Society of Feline Medicine (ISFM), the veterinary division of cat charity International Cat Care, is aiming to do with its new cat and client skills training programme. “Developing Cattitude: A Feline-Friendly Approach to Cats and Their Owners” has been launched to help veterinary practices in developing a sensitive approach to cat handling, essential to the ISFM Cat Friendly Clinic programme, as well as delivering a five-star service to cat owners. The one-day seminar, delivered to a small group of attendees, is practically-focused and combines workshops, discussion and video-training techniques to help attendees see, learn and then repeat best practice back in their clinics.
The programme has been developed by ISFM together with customer service training provider Onswitch, led by Alison Lambert, and Feline Specialist and Co-Director of the Oxford Cat Clinic, Martha Cannon. Delivered on board Bertha the Onswitch training bus, the course is aimed at all veterinary practice staff who want to excel at cat care and decrease the stress of cats visiting or being hospitalised in their clinics.
ISFM Trustee and Veterinary Advisory Panel Member, Martha explains, “We wanted to develop a learning programme that took attendees right through a feline-specific customer journey, taking in all aspects: from the client’s first encounter with the clinic reception staff, to their experience in the waiting room, through their consultation with the vet or nurse, and critically, addressing the feline-friendly attitude and cat handling skills that every practice member should demonstrate. Getting every step right results in a calmer, less-stressed cat that is more likely to be brought for veterinary attention when it needs it.
“Uniquely, we wanted this course to teach both the ‘soft’ skills of communication and customer care, alongside practical skills to be used every day. The small group focus and video-training platform proved ideal for this. We have filmed some of our lovely volunteer cats allowing themselves to be handled in common practice scenarios, while really paying attention to decreasing stressors: being coaxed/lifted out of baskets, undergoing gentle, stress-free clinical examinations, enjoying allo-grooming techniques, being held for (mocked-up) blood sampling and more. There is also a discussion on what to do when the cat isn’t happy, and the vet or nurse is under pressure for time. We know so much now about cat handling and what to avoid, that even those who have been practising for many years will benefit from this training.
“On the customer care side, Onswitch’s extensive video library of client feedback allows us to look at the needs of the cat owners themselves and we get real insight into what distinguishes one practice from another in their eyes. We’ll send attendees home with extremely valuable insights that are easy-to-share with their practice colleagues and that they can get going with straight away. I’d encourage anyone who wants to really champion the care of cats within their practice to come along.”
The Developing Cattitude courses will commence on the 29th of July, with an initial run of three days in Milton Keynes, Huntingdon and Stafford. There are just 10 places available for each day, which delivers 5 hours of certifiable CPD. The full programme can be viewed on www.icatcare.org/learn/vets/cattitude, and booking is available online at www.tickettailor.com/all-tickets/15/0a09/. The day costs £285 + VAT per person, and includes lunch, handouts and CPD certificates.
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Notes to editors:
About International Cat Care
The International Cat Care vision:
All cats, owned and unowned, are treated with care, compassion and understanding.
The International Cat Care mission:
To engage, educate and empower people throughout the world to improve the health and welfare of cats by sharing advice, training and passion.
About Martha Cannon BA VetMB DSAM(fel), RCVS Recognised Specialist in Feline Medicine MRCVS
Martha has a life-long love of cats and has spent a number of years specialising in their treatment and care. Martha worked at the "feline centre" in the University of Bristol department of veterinary medicine and has gained extra qualifications in small animal medicine. Martha is an accredited RCVS specialist in feline medicine and is regularly asked to write about or deliver talks on the subject of cats.
The Oxford Cat Clinic was established in 2006 by Caroline Blundell, and Martha Cannon, two veterinary surgeons with a passion for cats. Their aim is to allow cats and their owners to know that they are at the heart of their medical practice.
About Alison LambertBVSc MMRS MRCVS
Following qualification as a veterinary surgeon from Liverpool University, Alison Lambert entered practice and worked in small animal practice for several years prior to leaving to pursue a business career, first with Hills Pet Nutrition and then MARS.
As Founder and Managing Director of Onswitch, Alison and her team are constantly provoking new thoughts and ideas for the animal care professions in their relationships with the consumers who have cared for animals in their lives.
Central to the work that Onswitch does is the evidence that consumers with pets are behaving less like “clients” and, more and more like “shoppers”. Their decision making is driven by convenience factors and the concept of a loyal and bonded pet owner is less and less likely.
Alison is a visiting lecturer at Nottingham University Vet School covering customer understanding and she has spoken at WSAVA, BSAVA, BEVA, VPMA, BVNA and various other animal health meetings.