Nurses across the UK are set to have access to clear face masks in a bid to improve communication with individuals who rely on lip reading and facial expressions, during the coronavirus pandemic.
Nurses to Access Clear Face Masks to Improve Communication
The government has announced that 250,000 clear face masks will be delivered to NHS and social care workers over the next few weeks. The new drive aims to help nurses and other staff communicate with individuals with conditions such as autism, dementia and hearing loss in the wake of Covid-19.
Learning disability consultant nurse Jim Blair told Nursing Times the move was “very welcome”, particularly for those who “find it easier to interact and engage with people whose mouth and face are more visible”. The introduction of see-through masks, which are also anti-fogging, would make “interaction more personal and less scary for many individuals, especially people who have a learning disability”, added Mr Blair. “The use of such masks makes in my view for a better platform for communication and ensure support, care and treatment feels more relaxed whilst at the same time ensuring the safety of those in receipt of care and those providing care in the Covid times,” he said.
The face masks, manufactured by US-based company ClearMask, are single-use, latex-free and are not intended to filter.
They are designed for use indoors and at room temperature in ventilated, low-humidity environments.
According to the government, the first delivery of the masks had already been distributed to NHS trusts, with further deliveries due to come over the next couple of weeks.
“Everyone using our remarkable health and care system deserves the best care possible and communication is a vital part of that,” she said. “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. The introduction of clear face masks will help overcome some of the difficulties carers wearing PPE [personal protective equipment] are facing communicating with people who rely on lip reading.”
Social care providers would have access to the clear masks via a new pilot system with local resilience forums.
Local resilience forms are networks made up of representatives from public services in a certain geographical area, including the emergency services, local authorities and the NHS.
The Department of Health and Social Care and NHS England and NHS Improvement will be working together with suppliers on future orders based on demand.