What PPE is needed in care homes?


PPE: goggles and face mask by Mier Chen

Unfortunately, workers in care homes experience sustained transmission of COVID-19 as the disease is prevalent in these places throughout the UK. Sustained transmission is when infection is so widespread that for people infected with COVID-19, it is difficult to work out who or where they caught it from. The recommendations for care homes are to use personal protective equipment (PPE) whether the resident which you are providing personal care to has symptoms or not. You have to also wear it in all public places within the home whenever you are within 2 metres of any resident who is coughing even if not assisting them. Finally, workers must wear PPE when providing personal care including: assisting getting in/out of bed, feeding, dressing, bathing, grooming, and applying dressings.

Recommended PPE items when providing close personal care in direct contact with residents include:

  • Disposable gloves: single use nitrile gloves protect you from contact with residents’ body fluids or secretions.
  • Disposable plastic apron: single use to protect you from contact with residents’ body fluids or secretions.
  • Fluid-repellent (Type IIR) surgical masks: these masks can be worn continuously whilst providing care until a break is taken e.g. break time or end of shift. The mask protects both the care worker and can be used continuously caring for different residents despite their symptoms. However the face mask should not be touched by you or anyone else unless to put it on or remove it. The mask should be disposed of if it becomes damaged, soiled, damp or uncomfortable to use and a new mask should also be used every time a worker re-starts their duties after a break.
  • Eye protection: this is recommended for care of residents where there is a risk of droplets or secretions from the residents mouth, nose, lungs or other body fluids reaching the eyes. This is additionally important for caring for someone who is repeatedly coughing. Eye protection such as goggles or visors can be used continuously while providing care until you need to take a break from duties. If the goggles / visor is reusable then it can be cleaned and disinfected following local infection control policies between duties. If it is labelled single use then it has to be disposed of after removal.

Recommended PPE items for when you are within 2 metres of a resident but not delivering personal care include:

  • Type II surgical mask: these can be used continuously while providing care, until a break from duties such as break time or end of shift comes. The mask protects both the care worker and can be used continuously caring for different residents who have no symptoms of COVID-19 such as continuous cough. The mask should be disposed of if it becomes damaged, soiled, damp or uncomfortable to use. A new mask should always be used every time a worker re-starts their duties after a break or the start of a new shift.

Recommended PPE items for when you are at a distance of 2 metres of more away from residents include:

  • Type I or Type II surgical masks: If you are providing care duties to residents wearing PPE as outlined above it is important to remove all PPE, clean your hands and replace with a brand new surgical mask before moving on to another duty. These masks can be used continuously while providing care, until a break from duties such as break time or end of shift comes. The mask protects both the care worker and can be used continuously caring for different residents who have no symptoms of COVID-19 such as continuous cough or a high temperature. Masks should always be disposed of if they become damaged, soiled, damp or uncomfortable to use, and a new mask should be used when a worker re-starts their duties after a break.

In addition to the above measures it is also important to follow: hand hygiene, respiratory hygiene, infection prevention, the correct technique for putting on, taking off and disposing of PPE. Visitors in the care home should be instructed to wear a form of face covering (such as a cloth mask) whenever they are in the care home, whilst also following hand hygiene rules.

For more information follow: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-how-to-work-safely-in-care-homes

Zoe Brightmore
About the author

Zoe Brightmore

Zoe is a volunteer of PPE4People. A recent BSc neuroscience graduate with experience in scientific writing and two new kittens.