10 January 2023

Update on mask wearing and IPC guidance for care home settings in England

The Department of Health and Social Care has recently issued updated guidance on mask wearing in care homes in England.

You can now make risk-based decisions on when face masks are used, and care homes can initiate their own outbreak risk assessments to make decisions about which outbreak measures make sense for their individual settings. This now means that the College guidance relating to face coverings is the same in primary care and care home settings in England. Universal masking remains in place in all settings in Scotland. 

Latest surveillance from UKHSA suggests that levels of flu and COVID-19 are increasing, so it is vital you continue to maintain high standards of infection prevention controls to keep settings safe and reduce the risk of transmission. 

What the Guidance says

Section B39 in the Guidance for Professional Practice states that you should wear a Fluid Resident Surgical Face Mask (FRSM Type IIR) when: 

  1. Performing procedures when in close proximity to the patient
  2. You consider there is a risk of respiratory infection
  3. There is a public health requirement to wear one, such as during a pandemic, unless the mask type specified by the relevant national or local public health guidance recommends an alternative specification and level of protection.

Useful links

This article was correct at time of publication. 

Related further reading

Becky McCall asks how shifts in working practices caused by the COVID-19 pandemic might change the ophthalmic services workforce.

The College’s Clinical Editor on renewed excitement and optimism in the profession.

This study investigates the opinions of contact lens practitioners at the end of lockdown about the changes they implemented.