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PPE, Face Coverings and Face Masks for the Healthcare Sector

Without a doubt, healthcare workers are often most at risk of treating and caring for patients and people in the healthcare and social care sectors.

They are in close contact with people who may be symptomatic or particularly vulnerable to infection, such as the elderly, those with illness, and individuals with other disabilities.

In addition to our heroic NHS doctors and nurses on the frontline, those working in GP surgeries, dental surgeries, residential care homes and care workers who provide care to patients in their homes are at a greater risk than non-healthcare settings, simply by the nature of the work and close contact.

Depending on the type of health care setting, the Government provides in-depth advice and guidance. We’ve put together a general overview of how those working in the healthcare sector and social care settings can work safely.

How can healthcare and social care workers stay safe?

In addition to wearing PPE and face masks in the healthcare sector, other general measures staff can take include:-

• Reducing contact between staff, with team meetings and handovers being done remotely
• Ensuring effective hand hygiene before and after use of PPE
• Decontaminate hard surfaces and touchpoints
• Take minimal equipment for home care visits
• The erection of physical ‘splash barriers’ and screens in surgeries.
• Redesign how patients enter surgeries and manage social distancing
• Ensure staff and patients are aware of signs and notices are clearly visible
• Staff temperatures to be taken daily

What PPE and face masks should healthcare workers wear?

This will vary for each healthcare setting, but generally, whether the patient to whom you are providing personal care has symptoms or not whenever you are within 2 metres PPE and a face mask should be worn.

Whatever your role in care from care workers, cleaners, receptionists, or staff visiting care settings you should wear a face mask, which must be applied before entering the setting and worn for the duration of the visit.

Face masks and PPE can be used in many settings for working with residents in care homes and those in their own homes who require care.

PPE is only effective when worn properly, put on, and taken off safely and combined with hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene. Avoid touching your face with your hands and dispose of used PPE appropriately.

Disposable Gloves, Aprons and PPE

Buy Other PPE Products

Do patients have to wear a face mask?

Face coverings are needed in NHS settings, including hospitals and primary or community care settings, such as GP surgeries. They are also advised to be worn in care homes.

Are there exemptions for wearing face masks in healthcare?

Children under the age of 11 are exempt from wearing face masks and people who cannot put on, wear or remove a face covering because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability are also exempt.

If putting on, wearing, or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress you can get an exemption card, badge, or even a home-made sign. This is a personal choice and is not necessary by law.

What extra measures can be taken to keep environments clean?

Surfaces and belongings can be contaminated when people who are infectious cough or sneeze or touch them. Transmission of COVID-19 can occur when someone else then touches the contaminated surface or item.

Increased frequency of cleaning of general room surfaces reduces the presence of the virus and the risk of contact. Reducing clutter and removing difficult to clean items can make cleaning easier. Special attention should be paid to things that are touched frequently, such as door handles, light switches, work surfaces, remote controls, and electronic devices.

Healthcare settings such as GP and dental surgeries have strict hygiene rules to follow.

How home care providers can support the NHS Test and Trace service?

Home care providers can assist NHS Test and Trace by keeping a temporary record of their care staff and recipients of care. Many providers will already have the necessary record systems to store and provide this information on request.  You can find full details on how the NHS Test and Trace works here.

Can healthcare and care home workers get Coronavirus tests?

Coronavirus testing kits for residents and staff of care homes are available throughout the UK. You do not need to have coronavirus symptoms and care homes can simply apply via the Government website here for tests to be delivered to them.