Information

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


Other information

This section provides additional information in response to frequently asked questions. It will be updated regularly to reflect further questions asked by the sector.

Reason for the guidance

On 5 June 2020, the World Health Organisation (WHO) issued guidance about the use of face masks in the context of COVID-19. The WHO guidance reflected emerging evidence about potential transmission from symptomatic, pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic people infected with COVID-19 in locations where there is geographical evidence of sustained community transmission. In these circumstances, the WHO guidance recommends the extended use of medical face masks by health and care staff beyond the clinical or care area and also recommends face masks in settings where physical distancing cannot be maintained and the individual is at increased risk of infection and/ or negative outcomes. 

Differences between fluid resistant surgical masks and face coverings

Face coverings are made of cloth or other textiles that cover the mouth and nose. Face coverings are largely intended to protect others, not the wearer, against the spread of infection because they cover the nose and mouth which are the main confirmed sources of transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19.

FRSM are Fluid Resistance Surgical Masks, they are surgical or medical grade masks that provide protection to the wearer as well as others. 

Information for staff removing FRSMs or face coverings during shifts

Carers, nursing staff and other care providers should wear a FRSM throughout your shift but can remove their masks in the following situations:

  • in compassionate situations, for example palliative care, to enhance communication- but remember hand hygiene before and after touching the mask and appropriate physical distancing
  • during breaks when 2m physically distanced from others. 
  • to take a drink during your shift. It is important to keep hydrated throughout your shift, particularly as it can become hot and uncomfortable wearing masks over a long period of time
  • when removing your mask always remember to observe hand hygiene prior to removing their FRSM, and before putting a new FRSM on

Office-based, kitchen, laundry, domestic staff or staff or contractors within social care settings working in non-direct care roles, should wear a face covering when working within one-metre plus of another individual, unless previously legally exempt . Where staff in these roles wear face coverings they can remove the face covering in the following situations:

  • during breaks when social distanced from other. 
  •  to take a drink during your shift. It is important to keep hydrated throughout your shift, particularly as it can become hot and uncomfortable wearing masks over a long period of time
  •  when removing your mask always remember to observe hand hygiene prior to removing their face covering, and before putting a new covering on
  • when separated from other with a screen
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