Revised guidance has been published for home care providers in England on the correct use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
The new guidelines provide details on which items of PPE should be worn when personal care requires a care worker to be in direct contact with their client, and when their visit doesn’t require personal contact, but they need to be within two metres of the client.
The government has also revised previous guidance on “sessional use” of PPE, which required domiciliary care workers to dispose of PPE after each visit, impacting supplies.
Advice from Public Health England (PHE) now states that face masks and eye protection should be worn continuously until the care worker needs to remove them to eat or drink, or to take a break.
The period of duty between breaks is the equivalent to what PHE refers to as a “session” in the main PPE guidance, found here.
The United Kingdom Home Care Association (UKHCA), which helped produce the guidance, said the document is a “considerable improvement” on materials previously published, but there is still a “massive gap” between the current supply of PPE and the expectations set out in the guidance.
“This is a matter which UKHCA is in daily contact with the Department of Health and Social Care,” policy director Colin Angel told Home Care Insight.
The government has also outlined the technical specifications that PPE must meet before they are used, details for which can be found here.
But the UKHCA said home care providers are experiencing difficulties in obtaining facemasks which meet these specifications.
“There is now an urgent need to provide guidance on whether there are acceptable tolerances in the specifications, so that care providers can be confident that they are buying the right PPE to protect members of the workforce,” said Angel.