Around 250,000 clear face masks are to be delivered to frontline NHS and social care workers to support better care for people who use lip-reading and facial expressions to communicate, the Department of Health and Social Care has announced.
The masks are see-through and have an anti-fogging barrier to ensure the face and mouth are always visible to help doctors, nurses and carers communicate better with their patients with people with certain conditions like hearing loss, autism and dementia
‘Everyone using our remarkable health and care system deserves the best care possible and communication is a vital part of that. This pandemic has posed numerous challenges to the sector, so we are always on the hunt for simple solutions to support those giving and receiving care,’ said Minister for Care Helen Whately.
‘The introduction of clear face masks will help overcome some of the difficulties carers wearing PPE are facing communicating with people who rely on lip-reading. If this proves a success I look forward to increasing the supply to make sure whenever a clear mask is needed, there is one available.’
The first delivery of the clear masks has already been distributed to NHS trusts, with further deliveries over the next couple of weeks. Social care providers will also have access to the masks through a new pilot system with Local Resilience Forums. The Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England and Improvement will continue to work with suppliers on future orders based on demand.
‘We welcome the procurement of clear face masks, which has the potential to improve the accessibility of health and social care services for those who rely on seeing facial expressions and lip-reading to communicate, including people who are deaf or have hearing loss,’ said Roger Wicks, Director of Policy and Campaigns at Action on Hearing Loss.
‘Since the outbreak of coronavirus, people have told us continually that they are worried about communicating in health and social care settings where face masks are now in constant use. We know that clear masks have the ability to reduce barriers for both patients and staff across the NHS and social care services.’