New guidance on masks in care settings

New Scottish Government regulations on the extended use of face masks in wider community care and adult care homes came into force on Wednesday 30 September 2020. The guidance states all providers of primary and community care must wear Type IIR fluid resistant masks in the workplace, which are typically opaque.  

At Deaf Action, we’re concerned about the impact this will have on our *deaf clients, particularly those who use our social  care and support services. Opaque masks can create barriers to everyday conversation for *deaf individuals reliant on lipreading.  

The real impact on our community 

We spoke to Alison Richards, our Support Services Manager based in Slateford Green.  

“At the beginning of the pandemic our support staff wore opaque masks, but our clients were frightened as the masks presented a real communication barrier. We switched to clear masks and face shields which clients were much happier with, however with the new regulations in place, we feel like we’re back at square one. Our clients are angry, upset and frightened. 

They need to be able to communicate with health professionals, but if a carer, doctor or nurse is wearing an opaque mask, they don’t know what they’re saying or even what they’re feeling, as they can’t pick up on facial cues.” 

The new rules encourage healthcare staff to conduct a risk assessment when masks may need to be removed to aid lipreading, but protection shouldn’t mean exclusion. We must ensure these crucial services are accessible for deaf people, which can be done by supplying clear masks to care providers and their clients, particularly hearing people in care roles,  preventing unnecessary barriers for deaf people. 

What’s the solution? 

Clear masks are available, with several awaiting accreditation. We’re calling on the Scottish Government to use its spending power to speed up this process, to make clear masks available to all, as soon as possible. 

Our services

We offer a range of services across Scotland. Search for what's near you...

Our courses

Book an Interpreter

Deaf Action currently has a team of registered BSL Interpreters that work in a variety of settings. Combined, we have over 45 years of interpreting experience.

Registered Company Number SC 396876. Registered charity SC 009898. Registered address as above. If you have any problems using or accessing the site, or for any other comments on this site, please click here to contact us
Privacy Policy

*deaf includes people who are Deaf BSL users, deafened, deafblind and hard of hearing


Site by Shaw