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Personal protective equipment for unpaid carers

The council is able to offer free personal protective equipment (PPE) to unpaid carers supporting residents in Bracknell Forest.


To get free PPE from us, you need to be someone who:

  • looks after a friend or family member due to disability, age, addiction or ill health
  • does not get paid and the care is not linked to paid work or voluntary work
  • provides care to someone who doesn't live in the same household

Using PPE

It is not mandatory for unpaid carers to wear PPE. However recent clinical advice suggests it may be beneficial for unpaid carers, who do not live with the person they care for, to wear PPE.

We recommend using appropriate PPE regardless of whether the person you care for is showing symptoms of COVID-19 or of any negative test results for COVID-19.

The virus is circulating in the community and people may be infectious despite not having noticeable symptoms.

Choosing PPE

The level of PPE you need will depend on the type of care you provide. We recommend that you follow the PPE guide for community and social care settings.

Suggested PPE includes:

  • surgical face masks (Type II) in all scenarios, with fluid resistant surgical masks (Type IIR) if providing personal care or within 2 meters of someone who is coughing
  • gloves and disposable aprons if providing personal care or if indoors with someone who is extremely clinically vulnerable
  • eye protection (if within 2 metres of someone who is coughing or sneezing)

We do not provide clear face masks for use with someone who lip-reads, as they do not provide enough protection.

Using PPE

Washing your hands

You should make sure you wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water or clean them with alcohol gel before putting on your PPE. You should also wash your hands after removing gloves, before removing an eye protection, and both before and after removing your face mask. A video showing how to wash your hands can be found on the NHS website.

How to put on PPE

PPE should be put on before entering a person’s home. If you need to be within 2 metres of the person you are caring for, or to provide personal care, the additional PPE required should be put on while you are still more than 2 metres from them.

It is very important that you follow the guidance on using your PPE. This includes:

There is also a video available, detailing how to put on and take off PPE safely.

Using gloves and aprons

Disposable gloves and aprons are single use and you must dispose of them immediately after finishing a procedure or task and after each person being cared for, and then clean your hands.

You must take care not to touch your face, mouth or eyes when you are wearing gloves.

Using face masks

You can use the same surgical face mask (whether fluid-resistant or not) to care for more than one person, unless you need to remove the mask from your face (such as to drink, eat, or take a break).

You can wear the same mask between different home visits if it is safe to do so while travelling. This may be appropriate when travelling between households on foot, by car or by public transport, so long as you do not need to take the mask off, or lower it from your face.

You should remove and dispose of the mask if it becomes damaged, visibly soiled, damp, or uncomfortable to use. If removed, you need to use a new mask when you start your next visit.

Disposing of PPE

Used PPE should be immediately disposed of into a sealed plastic bag. This bag can then be placed into the normal household waste.

This waste should not be put out for collection until 3 days after the used PPE was placed inside it.

Used PPE should never be recycled.

Preventing infection

You should keep a 2 metre distance as far as possible when visiting the home of the person receiving care. You should also keep a 2 metre distance from anyone else who lives in the household.

It is important that you also do the following to prevent the spread of the virus:

  • wash your hands often, including when you arrive, using soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
  • do not visit or provide care if you are unwell and make alternative arrangements for the care of that person
  • let as much fresh air in as you can without getting uncomfortably cold

Caring and COVID-19 symptoms

You develop symptoms

If you develop symptoms you should isolate and get a test for COVID-19. As an unpaid carer, you are in the ‘key worker’ category for requesting tests and are eligible for prioritised testing if symptomatic.

If you are unwell or have been asked to isolate, it is important that you do not visit the person you care for. You should make alternative arrangements. If you are not able to do so, contact your local council or healthcare provider. If you cannot contact either of these services, please phone NHS 111.

The person you are caring for develops symptoms of COVID-19

If the person you are caring for develops symptoms of COVID-19, they should isolate immediately. You should help them to get a test if they are unable to do so themselves. If they test positive, they should isolate for 10 days following the start of the symptoms.

As a close contact of a case, you should isolate for 10 days from last contact. If you develop symptoms you should get a test yourself.

If the person you care for has symptoms of COVID-19 and the care you provide is essential, you may continue to provide care if you are not in a clinically vulnerable or extremely clinically vulnerable group.

If you are vulnerable, you should make alternative arrangements for care to be provided. If you are unable to do so, please contact your local council or healthcare provider. If you cannot contact either of these services, please phone NHS 111.

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