PPE and Homecare Workers
Personal protective equipment (PPE) describes items such as aprons, gloves, fluid repellent surgical masks and goggles.
Homecare Workers, including Personal Assistants (PAs), should use PPE if they are providing close personal care in direct contact with the people they are providing care for. This includes tasks such as assisting with getting in and out of bed, feeding, dressing, bathing, grooming, toileting, etc.
The government has produced a resource of information for homecare workers on using PPE. The information is comprised of:
1. Recommendations on the use of PPE and how often they need to be changed when:
- close personal care is being provided OR within 2 metres of anyone in the household who is coughing
- non-personal care is being provided and there is no need to touch them, and there is no one within 2 metres of each other who has a cough
- in any other situation in a client’s home or with other workers
In general, gloves and aprons are for single use only. Masks and eye protection can be used continuously while providing care unless you need to remove the mask from your face (e.g. to drink, eat, take a break from duties).
2. Detailed explanations of the recommendations on the use of PPE, including questions about:
- how PPE can protect a homecare worker, including how PPE is only effective when combined with hand and respiratory hygiene, following the correct technique for putting on and taking off PPE
- how to dispose of used PPE safely
- what 'continuous use' and 're-use' means and when it is safe to wear the same face mask between different homecare visits
- practicalities of using PPE, such as what to do with waste PPE and cleaning your work clothes
- and answers to many other questions
3. Guidance on providing homecare to people with learning disabilities or autistic people, which includes specialist guidance on what the homecare worker can do to ensure care is provided in a sensitive way that meets the needs of people with learning disabilities or autism.
4. Case scenarios to explain how PPE can be used appropriately, illustrating a homecare worker's day from when they arrive at the first client's house to when the worker finishes for the day.
Putting on and taking off PPE
PPE is only effective when it is put on and taken off properly, combined with good hand hygiene and other precautions such as avoiding touching your hands and face.
Once the PPE has been taken off it should immediately be 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.
Public Health England has produced some training resources on using PPE: