Personal protective equipment (PPE)
Personal protective equipment (PPE) describes items such as aprons, gloves, fluid repellent surgical masks and goggles. There is government guidance on PPE for care workers delivering homecare.
Any care worker or personal assistants (PAs) should use PPE if they are providing close personal care in direct contact with the people they are caring for. This includes tasks such as assisting with getting in/out of bed, feeding, dressing, bathing, grooming, toileting, dressings etc. If the person is being cared for by someone who lives in the same household it is unlikely that PPE will be needed. If there is a person coughing, and they live in the same household as the person receiving care and you are within 2 meters of them, then you need to wear PPE.
The guidance sets out what PPE should be used and how often PPE needs to be changed. For example, gloves and aprons are for single use only. Masks and eye protection are subject to sessional use. A single session refers to a period of time where a health and social care worker is undertaking duties in a specific clinical care setting or exposure environment. A session ends when the health and social care worker leaves the care setting or exposure environment. The duration of a single session will vary depending on the activity being undertaken.
PPE must be put on and taken off properly. PPE is only effective when combined with good hand hygiene and other precautions such as avoiding touching your hands and face.
Once the PPE has been removed it should be disposed of safely. It is essential that PPE is immediately disposed of in sealed rubbish bags. These bags should be placed into another bag, tied securely and kept separate from other waste. It should be put aside for at least 72 hours before being put in the usual household waste bin.
The guidance also includes frequently asked questions, contains specialist advice relating to care for people with learning disabilities and/or autism and contains case scenarios designed to illustrate the appropriate use of PPE.
There is also information on PPE for personal assistants (PAs) on the Direct payments and Personal Assistants page. This includes how to access PPE should you need to.
Useful resources for training on how to use PPE
Public Health England have produced some training resources on using PPE:
- downloadable poster on putting on and taking off PPE
- video on how to put on PPE
- downloadable poster on how to wash hands.