The government is advising on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) through Public Health England (PHE). Currently their advise for carers working in the community can be found here:
All the government advise on PPE is here
PHE’s latest advise says that anyone working with vulnerable clients/ patients/ residents, (ie those over 70 or with underlying health conditions) where it is not possible to maintain social distance of 2m should wear level 2 PPE. This is a surgical mask, goggles or a visor ( where moisture droplets may be present, ie any personalised care), an apron and gloves. This is the case whether the person has symptoms of Covid 19 or not.This PPE is single session use. In no circumstances should it be washed or steamed to use again. Surgical masks should be worn only until they become damp from wearing and, as long as they are put on and taken off safely, in home care should not be used for multiple visits. PPE should be put on and taken off according to guidance, which you should be trained in. Information on this can be found here:
The problem with PHE guidance is that it is partly based on availability, not just on what protects workers most effectively. It is obvious that the planning for provision of PPE across the health and care sector by the government has been completely inadequate. The possibility of a pandemic was predicted clearly for years. PPE should have been stockpiled for when it was needed. Instead we have seen inadequate supplies and chaotic distribution. The care sector has been completely neglected.
Many community organisations have been producing PPE, for example see https://www.facebook.com/1564445477106014/posts/2519516614932224/
Nobody can be surprised that workers are gladly accepting these offers of support from their communities. It is a scandal that this has had to happen and workers have had to rely on community produced safety equipment that are in many cases not fully health and safety checked.
When it became obvious that supplies were in adequate the government should have taken over factories and businesses capable of producing PPE, for example from the clothes retail sector and put them to socially useful manufacture. Even now we demand the government does this to vastly increase supply.