Government updates mask and outbreak guidance for care settings in England | QCS

Government updates mask and outbreak guidance for care settings in England

Dementia Care
December 16, 2022

Guidance on the use of face masks in all care settings and outbreaks in care homes has been updated by Government.

The changes will allow care providers to decide what appropriate measures need to be taken in both these areas.

What does the new guidance mean?

Previous guidance stated that face masks in care settings should always be worn and that care homes should seek advice from a local health protection team in the event of a COVID outbreak.

Now, providers can 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.

Decisions around masks will be based on different factors for example:

  • Risk to specific individuals
  • If the setting is in an outbreak, or
  • The preferences of the individual receiving care

Support is still available from health protection teams and other local partners for care homes when needed.

Minister of State for Social Care, Helen Whately, said: “We want care agencies and residential homes to decide what’s best for the people they look after.”

Providers should continue to ensure adherence to guidance and be able to evidence this to the CQC when asked.

Key guidance changes at a glance

  • Guidance for social care has been updated to give local providers more autonomy over universal face mask use and outbreak management
  • Providers can now conduct risk assessments to make decisions about the use of masks across adult social care and on measures in the event of a COVID outbreak in care homes
  • Outbreak testing has also been streamlined for small care homes in line with public health advice
  • Care homes should ensure visits between loved ones are supported, with each resident able to have at least one visitor even in an outbreak
  • Outbreak measures should only be implemented if at least two of the cases of COVID are linked and should be proportionate to factors specific to the care home such as if it’s well ventilated, easy to keep some parts isolated and how vulnerable people in the home are to COVID

Free PPE for providers remains

Social care settings will continue to be equipped with free PPE until March 2023.

Further Information