Scottish Government provides update for social care on face masks, testing and vaccination (Added 8 September 2020)

Updated Covid-19 face mask guidance for social care including adult care homes

Following a review of advice, the Scottish Government has updated its guidance on the use of face masks in social care settings including adult care homes.

The updated guidance recommends that face masks do not routinely need to be worn at all times within social care settings. Instead face masks should be for particular situations (for example following staff judgement, advice from health protection / public health or personal choice). This is because although Covid-19 continues to spread, transmission rates are lower and the virus is currently milder than at earlier stages in the pandemic resulting in a reduction in severity of illness and hospitalisation.

Full details are available online Coronavirus (Covid-19): use of face coverings in social care settings including adult care homes - ( Importantly, the fundamental principles of infection prevention and control precautions continue to be essential.

Antimicrobial Resistance and Healthcare Associated Infection (ARHAI) Scotland and Public Health Scotland will update their associated guidance documents as soon as practically possible.  

Providers are recommended to implement the face mask guidance as soon as possible from 14 September, or earlier if they are ready to do so. The recommendations in the guidance will require discussions with staff and those receiving care and support before adoption. For some services, the changes may be able to be implemented fairly quickly while for others, it may take longer.

Scottish Government is working with Scottish Care to host a webinar regarding changes to face masks and testing within social care. This will be open to all staff within social care to ask any questions they may have about the guidance. The date will be circulated within networks once agreed.

Review of asymptomatic testing in health and social care

A review has taken place of the remaining regular asymptomatic testing in place for health and social care staff and in high-risk settings. Scottish Government will issue advice for health and social care in the week beginning 12 September. This will have updated guidance materials and an implementation date of the end of September. Until this guidance is issued, staff should continue to test as per Coronavirus (Covid-19): social care and community based testing guidance - (

Covid and flu vaccination – autumn/winter 2022

Vaccination and the protection it offers staff and those they care for and support is important.  The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has issued advice for the Winter Covid-19 and flu programme recommending those most at risk, or those who come into regular contact with those most at risk, become eligible for a Covid-19 vaccine dose to maximise their protection over winter. Where possible, this will be co-administered with the flu vaccine, which is a safe and effective way to deliver protection.

The online booking portal for frontline health and social care workers can be accessed, along with other information on the programme and eligibility, at Winter vaccines | NHS inform. The direct portal page link is Login - Customer Service (

Carers who are aged 16+ are eligible for both Covid and flu vaccination this winter. The majority will be called for vaccination later in the programme, as part of the ‘at risk’ group. At this point, appointments can be booked on the portal or through the helpline for those who don’t have digital access. The only exception is that the over 65s will shortly be sent letters with timed appointments. In those letters, it will say that unpaid carers are eligible for vaccination and give instructions on how they can book. If someone they care for gets a letter, the carer can book their appointment from that time. 

PPE for early learning and childcare services (Added 30 June 2020)

To offer a route to buying PPE for private, voluntary and independent early learning and childcare services, including childminders and out-of-school care, the Scottish Government has set up a framework agreement with third-party supplier Lyreco.

Lyreco offers a range of products to purchase, including face masks, aprons, gloves, visors, hand sanitiser, goggles and safety glasses. All products are subject to availability and prices are updated regularly on the Lyreco website.

Please note that this is a ‘pay for’ service, and the provider will be responsible for paying for any products purchased from Lyreco under this agreement.

A list of frequently asked questions can be found here.

If you wish to open an account with Lyreco, please first read the privacy notice, then complete the form, which must include your Care Inspectorate CS number and email it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Once your CS number is confirmed as being a registered care service your account will be set up. This may take a few days depending on the volume of forms returned. Lyreco will then give you access to their online ordering site, where you will be able to see the full range of products available and current prices. Opening an account does not place you under any obligation to place an order.

Local authority providers should continue to access PPE through their usual routes, in most cases through Scotland Excel.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Health Protection Scotland has published revised guidance on the use of use of personal protective equipment (PPE) by health and social care workers, in the context of the current coronavirus Covid-19 emergency.

You can download the guidance here.

This guidance has been updated to reflect pandemic evolution and the changing level of risk of healthcare exposure to coronavirus Covid-19 in the UK. It is recognised that in contexts where coronavirus Covid-19 is circulating in the community at high rates, health and social care workers may be subject to repeated risk of contact and droplet transmission during their daily work. It is also understood that in routine work there may be challenges in establishing whether patients and individuals meet the case definition for Covid-19 prior to a face-to-face assessment or care episode.

This guidance is also updated to reflect the need for enhanced protection of people in vulnerable groups undergoing shielding. 

The main changes are:

  • enhanced PPE recommendations for a wide range of health and social care contexts
  • inclusion of individual and organisational risk assessment at local level to inform PPE use
  • recommendation of single sessional (extended) use of some PPE items
  • re-usable PPE can be used. Advice on suitable decontamination arrangements should be obtained from the manufacturer, supplier or local infection control
  • guidance for when case status is unknown and coronavirus is circulating at high levels
  • recommendation on patient use of facemasks.

 Safe ways for working for all health and care workers

  • Staff should be trained on putting on and taking off PPE. Videos are available online for training.
  • Staff should know what PPE they should wear for each setting and context.
  • Staff should have access to the PPE that protects them for the appropriate setting and context.
  • Gloves and aprons are subject to single use as per SICPs with disposal after each patient or resident contact.
  • Fluid repellent surgical mask and eye protection can be used for a session of work rather than a single patient or resident contact.
  • Gowns can be worn for a session of work in higher risk areas.
  • Hand hygiene should be practiced and extended to exposed forearms, after removing any element of PPE.
  • Staff should take regular breaks and rest periods.

Interim guidance on the use of face masks and face coverings (Added 24 June 2020)

The Scottish Government has released interim guidance on the wider use of face masks and face coverings in health and social care.

IRIC Alcohol-based hand rubs risk of fire (Added 1 May 2020)

The Incident Reporting & Investigation Centre has released an information message containing guidance on the risk of fire from alcohol-based hand rubs. 

You can view the information centre here.

Donations of PPE and other supplies (Added 29 April 2020)

There have been instances of well-meaning individuals approaching services with offers of a range of PPE equipment.  If you are approached, please direct them to the Scottish Government supply chain hub, which is now set up to receive donations for use in the health and social care system and ensure that any donated PPE meets quality and safety standards before it is issued.

This single point of contact is available to any business, community or voluntary organisation now wishing to make donations of PPE, scrubs, uniforms and other supplies. Donors can email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Guidance is also available to those offering support in this way here.

Access to PPE once all other normal routes have been exhausted (Added 24 April 2020) 

Social care providers can refer to this guide for information on how they can now access preventative Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Providers should phone the triage helpline (0300 303 3020) to access their preventative PPE kit.

Most Health & Social Care Partnerships now have local hubs in place. The Triage helpline will advise on local arrangements, and will also issue providers with their Single-use Collection Reference number.

Reccomended PPE for social care by setting (Added 24 April 2020) 

Providers can refer to this guide for guideance on appropriate use of PPE. In addition to standard infection prevention and control precautions, this guide can be reffered to.

The correct order for putting on, taking off and disposal of PPE (Added 24 April 2020) 

Providers can refer to this NHS Scotland video guide for guidance on the correct order of putting on, taking off and disposal of PPE. 

Individual’s home or usual place of residence (Added 24 April 2020) 

For provision of direct care to any member of a household where one or more is a possible or confirmed case, plastic aprons, Fluid Resistant Surgical Masks, eye protection and gloves are recommended.

For delivery of care to any individual meeting criteria for shielding (vulnerable groups) or where anyone in the household meets criteria for shielding, as a minimum, single use disposable plastic aprons, surgical mask and gloves must be worn for the protection of the patient. 

In clinical areas, communal waiting areas and during transportation, it is recommended that possible or confirmed Covid-19 cases wear a fluid-resistant (Type IIR) surgical face mask (FRSM) if this can be tolerated.

Good hand washing technique (Added 24 April 2020) 

Providers can refer to this NHS Scotland guide and video guide for guidance on good hand washing technique.

Revised PPE guidance (last updated 9 April 2020)

NHS NSS triage centre for social care (updated 24 March 2020)

NHS National Services Scotland (NSS) (NSS) has set up a helpline to deal with social care supplies during Covid-19.   

At the moment, the helpline is to be used only in cases where there is an urgent supply shortage and a suspected or confirmed case of Covid-19.  This will be reviewed regularly in the coming days and weeks. 

Care service providers can reach the NHS NSS triage centre by calling 0300 303 3020.

When contacting the helpline, providers will be required to:

  • answer a series of short screening questions 
  • confirm they have fully explored business as usual procurement routes
  • confirm they have a suspected or confirmed case of Covid-19 and therefore have a need for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • provide their Care Inspectorate registration number.

The helpline will be open 8am – 8pm, 7 days a week.

Clarification from NSS on use of vinyl gloves (added 2020)

Dear Provider,

We recently (21 May) wrote to you in relation to the supply of gloves for social care. Please accept my apologies for any lack of clarity caused as a result of our previous communication; I hope I can remove any confusion now.

Firstly, there is no change in any PPE best practice guidance. 

NSS National Procurement has supplied nitrile medical examination gloves throughout the Covid-19 pandemic response, and recently we have also issued vinyl gloves to the social care hubs.

Best practice guidance on national infection prevention and control suggests that nitrile gloves should be used where there is a risk of exposure to blood/body fluids, or when using hypochlorite for cleaning. Vinyl gloves continue to be suitable for uses where there is no risk of such exposure.

NSS National Procurement is committed to ensuring the provision of the right PPE to our colleagues in social care, so that the right items are available to support the right task. In the short term, NSS National Procurement will only issue nitrile gloves to social care hubs. We will engage with the sector to assess the future balance of need for vinyl gloves and provide regular updates.

If your organisation requires stock of nitrile gloves before you can access them through the social care hub, please contact our contact centre on 0300 303 3020 to request additional supply and we can urgently deliver this.

Kind regards,

Gordon Beattie

Director of National Procurement

NHS National Services Scotland

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