PPE is the overarching term for any form of equipment that can include aprons, gloves, eye protection such as visors, masks, and respiratory protective equipment. PPE is equipment that will protect the user against health or safety risks at work. This equipment is used in many different settings. Information is provided below for unpaid/family carers and Personal Assistant employers on how to use and access PPE.

NHS Inform has the latest COVID-19 guidance from NHS Scotland and the Scottish Government, including physical distancing measures and advice for infected households.

Unpaid Carers

Many people are being cared for by family members, friends and neighbours who may be affected by coronavirus. There may be a need for PPE to be worn by carers during this time – particularly if carers are helping with personal care.

The Scottish Government has published advice for unpaid carers who visit or live with a friend or family member to provide help with personal care such as washing or dressing. It covers the situations in which unpaid carers may require personal protective equipment (PPE). See the how to put on, remove and dispose of PPE safely video below.

Falkirk Health and Social Care Partnership is working closely with Falkirk and Clackmannanshire Carers Centre to support unpaid carers to identify whether they need to use PPE, what type they may need and how to get this.

You can contact Falkirk Carers Centre or your local Social Work Office for more information:

Falkirk Carers Centre

Personal Assistants

Personal Assistants (PAs) typically spend longer periods of time working with their employer. This work often takes place within the employer's home, the homes of the employer's friends or family, or in spaces that are part of an employer's day to day life, such as their workplace. As a PA employer it is important that you continue to ensure the health and safety of your PAs during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

The Self Directed Support (SDS) Team is working closely with Self-Directed Support Forth Valley to ensure personal assistant employers are accessing appropriate PPE for their staff.

PPE advice for personal assistants for employers and employees is updated and revised regularly, this includes the type of equipment available and circumstances for its use. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's) accompany the advice with links to Health Protection Scotland and NHS Inform, ensuring that the most up to date guidance is accessible at a time when information is subject to change and further development.

Self Directed Support Forth Valley
Self Directed Support Team

Frequently asked questions

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These frequently asked questions apply to employees involved in the delivery of frontline social, community and residential care services.

What is the recommended PPE for use when a PA is working in a home where no symptoms are suspected or confirmed for COVID-19?

All PAs should have access to gloves, aprons and a mask. See PPE for recommended equipment and in what circumstances it should be used. A self assessment is advised for the use of a fluid resistant surgical mask and eye protection visor, depending on the task being undertaken.

PPE in the community

For normal duties, social distancing and careful hand washing helps keep you and everyone safe. Whenever possible try to stay 2 metres (6 feet) apart from both colleagues and people you provide care for. When providing personal care, this is not always possible; PAs should make an effort to lessen time in close contact. This reduces the risk of virus transmission.

Are there different types of masks?

Fluid resistant surgical masks are recommended for use in social/community and residential settings. You will see a number of different masks being used across social care as they are sourced from a range of suppliers. There will be specific guidance that accompanies some types of mask.

Some services use masks for non care related services. Employers should make sure PAs providing care related services have the correct equipment and follow the relevant guidance. Any concerns should be raised with employers. PAs should also read the guidance and ensure they know what PPE they should use and how to use it.

Should a fluid resistant surgical face mask be worn to prevent supported people being infected, when I have no symptoms?

Masks should be worn when in contact with someone who is shielding, showing signs of or confirmed to be infected.

You should not be attending work if you are displaying symptoms of COVID-19. The symptoms are a high temperature and a new, dry persistent cough.

Should I change my mask with every task/person or use it all day?

A mask should only be worn once for a particular session. Within a residential home or day setting or a person’s own home, this would be for the duration of the shift. Other PPE (gloves and aprons) are single use and should be disposed of after each contact in delivering care.

You will change all of your PPE when you take a break, take your lunch, or go to the toilet. Please remember to remove it properly and dispose of it correctly by following the guidance issued.

When delivering support or care in someone’s home a session is defined as when a PA is visiting an individual employer. PPE would be applied on entering their home and removed when leaving and disposed of safely.

Masks should be disposed of if they become very moist or damaged. When wearing a mask it is important to refrain from touching it to reduce risk of infection.

What is the recommended minimum PPE to be worn when visiting or caring for a person who is shielding, showing signs of or confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 virus?

All employees should be using PPE equipment (gloves, apron and mask).

What is shielding?

Shielding is for people, including children, who are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus(COVID-19).

Shielding measures should be used when an extremely vulnerable person is living in their own home, with or without additional support. This includes extremely vulnerable people living in long-term care facilities.

For more information, refer to guidance on shielding.

Where should your personal PPE be stored?

In a clean and dry area. Your employer will provide you with personal PPE or direct you to where this can be obtained. When you need more PPE, please speak to your employer who should arrange for you to be given an additional supply. Distribution hubs for PPE have been established and will have supplies available for social care services and for PAs.

When should a full face visor/shield or goggles be used?

Only in circumstances where there is a risk of body fluid splash to the face. See PPE for recommended equipment and in what circumstances. The use of visor would be required, following risk assessment, if there is a risk of splashing and support is required within the 2m social distancing criteria i.e. supporting personal care, eating etc., for suspected and confirmed COVID cases.

A full face visor is only routinely required in specific medical situations when using aerosol generating procedures.

What about the use of hand sanitiser?

Hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is the preferred method to combat the virus. Hand washing should be extended to exposed forearms, after removing any element of PPE.

Best practice in handwashing

Hand sanitiser can be accessed from your employer and should be applied after the removal of PPE in the absence of handwashing facilities.

When being worn for an individual session, where should PPE be put on?

Full PPE should be put on in a hallway or reception area of a person’s home, before entering the room and engaging with someone shielding or suspected or confirmed to be infected. Essential hand hygiene should be followed before contact with the person being supported or cared for and immediately following removal of PPE.

How do I remove my PPE?

It is important to remove PPE in a particular order to minimise the risk of infection. To do this safely follow Infection Control guidance putting on and removing PPE.

Although this is aimed at health care professionals, it is also recommended for use by wide range of workers, including Pas.

How do I dispose of my PPE?

PPE should be disposed of safely in a disposable bag, double bagged and tied. This should be left in the individual employer’s waste in their home. You should write the date on the bag so that it can put out for collection after 72hrs. You can use normal disposable bags.