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


We are in a different position to where we were at the start of the pandemic with high levels of vaccination (including boosters), a greater understanding of the virus, and treatments for COVID-19.

Protective measures in social care settings, have been reviewed and some removed, in light of this progression and in consideration of the risk of harm from Covid-19, the rights of individuals, and the impact protective measures can have on health and mental wellbeing. 

However as legal requirements for the public are changed to guidance, the fundamental principles of infection prevention and control (IPC) continue to be essential. This is to minimise the risk of the spread of infection,including COVID-19 in social care settings.

All health and social care staff and visiting professionals to social care settings should therefore continue to follow guidance contained within the National Infection Prevention Control Manual Appendix 22 - community IPC COVID-19 Pandemic.

This includes:

  • hand hygiene, 
  • respiratory etiquette, 
  • safely optimising ventilation
  • the appropriate use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including fluid resistant surgical masks (FRSM)

Our guidance does not replace the guidance contained within the IPC Winter Respiratory Addendum. It aims to supplement the information on using face masks within the Addendum.

The key points of this guidance are:

  • all staff providing direct care should wear a Fluid Resistant Surgical Mask (FRSM), as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), throughout their shift as per the guidance. 
  • all staff in non-direct care roles - such as domestic, administration, or management- are recommended to wear a FRSM, in replace of a face covering, in instances where contact with care home residents, service users and/ or tenants is anticipated
  • individuals receiving care and support within their own home, including care homes, do not need to wear a FRSM or face covering. It is a individual’s choice whether to wear one as an additional layer of protection, and all times the needs and choices of those receiving care and support should be the primary consideration
  • visitors to care homes can choose not to wear a face covering within the resident’s personal room, however face covering or face masks are highly recommended and should be encouraged be worn in communal areas. During an outbreak or when visiting an individual who is COVID-19, the visitor should wear a Fluid Resistant Surgical Mask (FRSM)
  • visitors to individual's own homes, and supported housing settings do not need to wear face coverings but should use ‘Covid sense’ to protect yourself and others when meeting with individuals in indoor environments
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