Scottish Government apologises for care home mask confusion

The Scottish Government has apologised for “confusion” around guidance on wearing face coverings in care homes.

Monday, 28th June 2021, 12:30 pm

New guidance at the beginning of June said care home residents must wear a disposable face mask (FRSM) when receiving personal care or in communal spaces of the home, unless they were exempt.

This sparked criticism from care home operators and relatives of care home residents, who said the requirement would be distressing.

They also argued the guidance was unfair as communal areas are still within residents’ own homes, and as staff and visitors already wear face masks, it would mean some residents “never seeing another human face”.

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Residents who don't want to wear a mask will not be required to do so.

The Scottish Government has now apologised and said face coverings are not required for residents.

Chief Nursing Officer Amanda Croft said: “The Scottish Government and I apologise to care home staff, residents and their friends and family for the confusion caused by our guidance.

"We have listened, and acted to clarify and update it.”

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Health secretary Humza Yousaf said: “I know this caused some upset amongst residents and their families. I hope this update provides clarification on our position.”

The new guidance states: “Residents in a care home are not required to wear a FRSM or face covering within the care home, which is first and foremost their own home.

"It is a residents choice whether to wear one as an additional layer of protection, and all times the needs and choices of care home residents should be the primary consideration.

“Individuals receiving care within their own home are not required to wear a FRSM or face covering within their home. It is their choice whether to wear a face covering, when care staff are providing care within their home.”

It comes as other guidance around care homes has also been updated by the Scottish Government.

Fans are now permitted in residents rooms, a measure which many relatives had called for during the summer weather, but had previously been resisted as a risk to virus spread.

Fans may also be used in communal areas, but only in exceptional circumstances – in very warm weather, when all other measures have been taken to reduce the temperature, and if there is no ongoing Covid outbreak at the home.

The guidance also relaxes rules around self-isolation for residents entering care homes from other settings.

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