Inclusivity and wellness inform key changes to new National Occupational Standards

The National Occupational Standards (NOS) for several key areas of beauty and spa therapy have been completely refreshed to reflect industry changes, with a particular focus on inclusivity, mental, emotional and physical wellbeing, and a more bespoke approach to treatment.

Habia’s new standards for Beauty Therapy, Nails, Aesthetics, Wellbeing and Holistic industries have been released following a consultation process involving employers, and will now be used as a basis for many of the beauty qualifications taught. 

The key changes include a focus on ensuring salons, spas and therapists take an inclusive approach to who they treat and how they treat them, in terms of race, gender and physical and mental health conditions, looking at the person rather than the identity. 

Inclusivity in the standards

The standards around skin, for example, have been refreshed to be more explicitly inclusive, without being prescriptive. Therefore, rather than focusing on skin colour, the new standards revolve around phenotyping and genotyping, meaning learners on courses that adopt these standards will be taught to base their treatments and recommendations around the individual skin of the client, rather than categorising just on culture or background.  

The standards also recommend the use of gender-neutral language and a less prescriptive approach to male and female treatments.  

Emotional wellbeing and personalised treatments

Another major focus is wellness and the new scientific evidence that proves the mental and physical benefits of massage and other spa therapies. 

For example, the standards for spa, have been rewritten as Wellbeing and Holistic, to reflect the direction of the market, with the massage unit, for example now including mindfulness. Another key change in this area is that fundamental full-body massage now has a NOS unit that could become curriculum taught for entry to the workforce at Level 2.  

In the past, there has been criticism from employers that colleges and providers teach routines rather than encouraging therapists to take a more thoughtful, personalised approach, so the new standards are designed to reflect the “thinking therapist” that is needed in the job role.

Caring for therapists' wellbeing

The standards around work-related injuries have also been revisited, with a more preventative approach to help therapists look after their own wellbeing with advice on issues such as dehydration and fatigue, for example. 

Major industry names involved in the rewrite include Galgorm Spa director Tara Moore, Dermalogica education manager Candice Gardner, nail expert Marian Newman and beauty and waxing trainer and employer Sam Marshall. 

Diane Hey, employer and chair of the overall NOS Steering Group said, “These suites have brought new modalities forward, have established the level of practice standard expected, are fully inclusive and have been a monumental achievement. Thank you to all involved.”

The individual standards can be searched and accessed via the UK Standards website.

Did you see, the Level 3 Wellbeing and Holistic Therapist Apprenticeship is ready for delivery too?