A home care provider based in Swindon has invested in 3D printers to engineer its own personal protective equipment (PPE).
With mounting concerns over the supply and availability of PPE, directors at First City Nursing and Care decided to take matters into their own hands in order to protect its 300 members of staff and 600 elderly and vulnerable clients.
The first prototype face shield is now coming off the production line thanks to the assistance of Ben Edmonds, a local inventor and product designer who runs an ‘Inventor Club’, teaching kids innovation and problem solving.
Managing Director of First City Nursing and Care, Stephen Trowbridge, said: “Our staff make over 12,000 visits a week to vulnerable and elderly people in our community, many of whom having been displaying symptoms of Covid-19. My teams are on the frontline of the fight against Covid-19 but every day it was getting harder to source the PPE that they need in order to do their jobs safely.
“NHS distribution lines were only able to send us 300 masks a week and our other suppliers were finding it difficult to source goods too. Over the last few weeks we’ve seen prices rocket up, with alcohol gel rising by 12 times and a similar increase for face masks. We felt as though we were being forced to the black market to obtain this critical equipment as new suppliers appeared on the market, but we were dubious over the quality and safety of the products. Like every other care provider in the country, we were at a loss over what to do.
“We needed a cost-effective solution and that’s when we turned to technology. This is the result of people with a passion for finding answers coming together in their own time to support the community.”
The face shields feature a head band and acetate face shield, which can be replaced between each client visit, removing the risk of cross contamination.
First City is now also working with a local brewery to produce alcohol gel that will be distributed to staff.