The continued response to COVID-19 means there is an ongoing need to wear masks or face coverings in health and care settings throughout Fife.
While standard face masks can create a barrier for people who are hearing impaired or have a health condition that stops them engaging effectively, there is a risk of transmission if staff have to remove their masks to communicate.
Recognising the impact that this can have on patients, family members and colleagues who rely on lip-reading and facial expression to communicate, NHS Fife has joined a nationwide initiative to make transparent face masks available for use in health and social care settings.
The new transparent masks, which are made in Scotland, have been developed in accordance with government specifications to be used where a Type IIR surgical face mask should be worn. The mask features a clear, anti-fog front panel, positioned to prevent reflection and make lip-reading and facial expression easier, helping to reduce the communication challenges the pandemic has created.
A St Andrews-based patient who recently attended a consultation has spoken about the benefits of clear facial coverings: “My appointment went well. The mask used was a plain visor, like the type my doctor has been using for the past year and not the latest issue NHS clear face mask. However, it was much appreciated. I took my white board with me and because I could see the doctor's lips, she only used it once and that was to draw a diagram.”
The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapy had raised the use of transparent masks nationally as vital to patient care during the pandemic.
In addition to wearing the masks, were face to face consultations or non-contact care is given, patients and health and social care providers should also continue to maintain physical distancing wherever possible.
Image caption: Alpha Solway