Inaccurate advice on how care home staff should use PPE is creating ‘serious dangers’ for workers and residents alike, according to Unison.
The trade union has claimed some workers have told them their employers are still not issuing them with any, or enough, vital PPE such as masks, gloves, aprons and gowns.
And some care home employers are also informing staff that PPE is not to be used until there are confirmed cases of Covid-19 in their workplace, which means they are carrying out close personal care without any protection.
Other staff say supply shortages mean they have to wear masks all day, including going from room to room which potentially increases the risk of spreading the virus to those most in danger. A number have been told they don’t need protection in communal areas of care homes, despite continuing to be among the residents.
The latest PHE guidance for care homes states that staff should wear face masks when providing personal care ‘which requires them to be in direct contact with the residents or within two metres of a resident who is coughing’.
But UNISON said these national guidelines are not sufficiently clear nor comprehensive enough.
The union has now written to Public Health England, requesting detailed advice on a number of issues to help care staff, including whether new masks should be worn each time a worker gives personal care
In addition, Unison has launched a petition demanding the government step up and deliver on its promises around PPE and do much more to protect care staff and elderly people.
‘Covid-19 is rife in care homes across the UK with thousands dying before their time when we’ve known of the risks for weeks,’ said Unison assistant general secretary, Christina McAnea.
‘But staff are still not being given the PPE they need to cut the risks.
‘Some tell us their employers are doing the right thing, but many care workers are being put in danger because what they’re being told is plain wrong. They feel helpless because they’re often on low pay and are left to choose between risking their health or paying their bills,’ added Ms McAnea.
‘We need clear, simple and easily accessible guidance so staff know exactly what kit they’re entitled to and feel more confident to challenge employers refusing to provide it.’
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