Today (23 June), the Cabinet Secretary for Health & Sport made the following statement in the Scottish Parliament regarding the use of face masks:
“Face masks will now be worn in hospitals and care homes for adults by all staff who have contact with patients or residents.
“Outpatient, day case attendances and visitors will be asked to wear a face covering.
“This new measure is designed to reduce the risk of transmission from the person wearing the mask or face covering.
“Guidance on this for Health Boards and employers will issue this week and be effective from 29 June.”
In line with existing PPE guidance, staff will be expected to wear medical grade masks for this wider use. For visitors to care homes, this should be face coverings along the lines of what has been recommended more recently for transport and for entering other areas where physical distancing is more difficult (e.g. supermarkets).
Scottish Care welcomes this announcement, which we first called for on 29 April. We consider it to be one of a number of important measures in protecting residents and care home workers from Coronavirus infection and spread and one which will be increasingly important as lockdown measures are eased.
We look forward to the issuing of guidance around this extended use of face masks in health and care settings. It will be important to consider how professional judgment can be exercised around the wearing of masks when supporting individuals with dementia, those who lip read or who are experiencing significant distress. It will also be important to ensure that care homes can continue to access the number of masks required at a sustainable cost as demands on the supply chain are likely to increase, and we continue to be grateful to the Scottish Government for their PPE support to care services through the triage and hub system.
Scottish Care wants to see the extension of this announcement to health and care staff in the community, including in care at home settings. These individuals are also at greater risk of infection transmission and spread, not least as visiting restrictions across the population ease. They require recognition and consistency in PPE use between themselves and colleagues in other health and care settings and sectors.