New Covid-19 guidance removes routine mask wearing requirement in care settings
As of tomorrow, 22nd December 2022, new government Covid-19 guidance removes the requirement for face masks to be routinely worn by staff and visitors in care settings.
This is positive news for care home residents and individuals receiving care in their own homes, who may have struggled to effectively communicate in light of the challenges face masks present to lip reading, hearing the spoken word or observing body language. This has been especially challenging for those living with dementia, who may have a limited understanding of the pandemic and the resulting restrictions we have all been required to follow.
What does the new guidance say?
The new guidance provides a lot more freedom of choice when it comes to mask wearing.
Carers and care home staff no longer need to wear a face mask when delivering care, unless the individual they are caring for requests that they do, or if they feel it would be beneficial to help protect those who may be especially vulnerable. This applies to both carers working in residential care homes, and those out in the community supporting people in their own homes.
Visitors to care homes are also now exempt from the requirement to wear a face mask when spending time with their loved ones, unless the individual they are visiting requests that they do so.
Can I still choose to wear a mask?
Of course. Care home visitors are completely free to continue wearing face masks in care settings, if they so wish.
Care settings are also able to use their discretion and continue to wear masks to protect those who may be particularly vulnerable, or where they consider that face masks may prevent or limit the spread of an outbreak of Covid or other infectious disease.
Do I have to wear a mask if the person I am visiting requests this?
Whilst face masks are no longer compulsory in care settings as a rule, individuals receiving care still have the right to request that these are worn. Our care teams will respect the right of any individual who requests that masks are worn, and we ask that all visitors to our care settings do the same.
Whilst this latest change in government guidance will be welcomed by many, our priority will always be the health and wellbeing of those in our care – if wearing a mask will make a resident or customer feel more comfortable, then we will continue to do this.
Can a care setting still ask me to wear a mask?
There may be occasions when a care setting will still ask visitors to wear a mask in order to protect those they care for, even though this is no longer required by law. For example, if mask wearing may prevent or limit the spread of a potential Covid outbreak, you may be asked to wear a face mask when visiting.
We appreciate that wearing a face mask when visiting a loved one can be upsetting or frustrating, and thank all of our visitors for their patience and understanding throughout the pandemic. Please rest assured that we will only ask you to wear a face mask in specific circumstances, if we consider this in the best interests of those in our care.
If you have any questions or concerns about the change in guidance, and what this means for you when visiting a care setting, please contact the relevant care home directly, and they will be happy to help.
We hope that the new guidance will help you to enjoy visiting your loved ones and sharing a smile with them this Christmas.