Coronavirus (COVID-19): use of face coverings in social care settings including adult care homes

Guidance for staff on use of face coverings in these settings.

This document is part of 2 collections

Mask-wearing guidance

  • staff do not need to routinely wear a face mask or face covering at all times during their shift
  • visitors to adult care homes and other settings do not need to wear a face mask or a face covering including in communal areas
  • where staff think that they or the supported individual may be at risk of being exposed to COVID eg where there is poor ventilation, crowding, risk of splash or another reason, they should wear a FRSM and where relevant other PPE as per SICPs
  • if any contact with a confirmed or suspected case of infectious respiratory viruses is anticipated, PPE for droplet transmission including an FRSM should be worn in line with current ARHAI Scotland guidance. 
  • staff, visitors and those receiving care and support may choose to wear a mask and this should be supported
  • while receiving care and support, individuals may wish a member of staff to wear a mask. If so, this should be supported by staff and be recorded in care or support plans
  • staff should continue to follow advice contained in National Infection Prevention and Control Manual: Appendix 22 - Community IPC COVID-19 Pandemic ( in addition to the local Health Protection Team (HPT) or Infection Prevention and Control Team (IPCT) as they may advise on the reintroduction of extended face mask use, if indicated by a local risk assessment e.g. for prolonged/ difficult to control situations
  • visitors to social care settings should continue to follow requests by the care service in relation to IPC precautions and mask wearing in particular situations
  • when outside of the social care setting, staff should continue to follow COVID Sense Guidance for the general public which recommends, amongst other things, continuing to wear a face covering in indoor public places and on public transport. Staff may choose to wear a FRSM in such situations while working and this should be supported
  • staff should continue to implement all IPC precautions for SICPs and TBPs as per the NIPCM and CH IPCM

What you should do if wearing a mask

Face mask wearing and disposal                                            

It is important the mask is worn correctly as per advice within the NIPCM and CH NIPCM. Used face masks and all waste items that have been in contact with the client (e.g. used tissues and disposable cleaning cloths) should be disposed in the way advised.

Transparent face masks 

Transparent face masks have been developed to aid communication, including for those who are hearing impaired or lip-read. These are available through your local supply routes, or should usual supply routes fail, from the Social Care PPE hubs.

Challenge with face mask wearing                                                                    

There will be instances of staff who may suffer from breathing difficulties or from genuine distress if required to wear a face mask. Affected staff members, such as those who were exempt from the legal requirement to wear a face covering/face mask, should discuss this with their line manager and occupational health service to consider appropriate alternatives, where possible. 


The registered manager or their delegate should discuss the wearing of face masks and face covering by staff, along with the harms of COVID-19, with individuals receiving care and support, including with their representative / family members (where appropriate).

Discussions and decisions on whether the individual would prefer staff to wear a face mask while receiving care should be recorded in the individual’s care or support plan. Discussions and decisions should be person-centred, taking into account the wishes of the supported individual.

It should also be noted that staff are not obliged to remove their face mask where there has been a request for them to do so by a supported individual, or their representative or family.

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