Carers on the Isle of Wight are worried personal protective equipment (PPE) issued by the Isle of Wight Council is not up to standard.
However, the council has issued reassurances the PPE equipment is in line with government guidelines.
Concerns over standard of PPE
After initial concerns about the amount of PPE being issued, it is now the standard of the kit that concerns workers during the Coronavirus epidemic.
Concerns were raised by workers in the past few weeks about the lack of PPE when going into multiple residential properties and care homes looking after some of the most at-risk and vulnerable to the virus.
However, masks given to carers are not fluid repellent and carers are asking for goggles to protect themselves when doing close and intimate care.
Chiverton: “Anxiety over whether right equipment being allocated”
Mark Chiverton, Unison representative at the Isle of Wight Council, has said carers and other community support staff are still very anxious about having to look after people without the right equipment — in case they accidentally transmit the virus between visits. He said,
“The council has done some work against the revised guidelines but there is still anxiety over whether the right equipment is being allocated.
“The equipment being provided is not sufficient for people to do intimate care — the face masks need to be fluid resistant.
“It is being quite carefully rationed in case of what may come, but a lot of members are concerned about getting infected now and passing it on.
“No one is expected to be in full hazmat suits but nevertheless there are staff who do emergency procedures and they need to have the right protection — it makes them very nervous.
“There needs to be a match of what jobs people do and what PPE is required to do the job safely and Unison believe there has been no rigorous analysis of all tasks — more needs to be done on this.”
IWC: “PPE in line with latest guidance”
However, an Isle of Wight Council spokesperson said the use of PPE is in line with the latest guidance.
“We are extremely grateful for the vital work and commitment of the Island’s carers in looking after the most vulnerable residents in our community.
“We understand many will have concerns for their own safety at this most difficult and uncertain of times.
“We also share those concerns and are therefore making sure they work to the best professional advice available and as it is regularly updated by the experts at Public Health England.
“The council’s approach to the use of PPE is in line with the latest guidance which was published jointly by Public Health England, the Department of Health and Social Care, the Care Quality Commission and the NHS on 2nd April.
“The guidance remains that fluid repellent face masks are only needed when someone is working with an individual who has, or shows symptoms of, Covid-19.
“Securing supplies of PPE for the social care sector is a national challenge but the council has been able to source a good quantity of PPE from its suppliers — delivery is expected shortly and for use in accordance with the latest and any future guidelines from Public Health England.
“We are due this week to be supplemented with an ‘if needed’ supply of PPE from the government for use in care settings and this must be allocated in line with government advice.
“We remain committed to the ongoing provision and proper use of PPE for those working in all of the Island’s care settings.”
This article is from the BBC’s LDRS (Local Democracy Reporter Service) scheme, which OnTheWight is taking part in. Some alterations and additions may be been made by OnTheWight. Ed