As you might have heard in recent days, UNISON has been at the forefront of national demands for workers to be offered adequate protection against the risks posed by Covid-19.
In particular, we have become increasingly concerned about the experience of some workers in the residential and home care sectors and we are working to ensure that you are afforded the right equipment to do your job safely.
It is unfortunately becoming clear that Covid-19 is spreading throughout care environments and we know that it is essential that workers are provided with adequate amounts of appropriate PPE. This is not only to protect themselves but also for the vulnerable people that they are caring for. It is not good enough for workers to be constrained to only being able to use full PPE (including appropriate masks) when they are dealing with “possible or confirmed cases”.
The UK government and devolved administrations have published clear guidance on appropriate PPE for health and social care workers. This has been written and reviewed by all 4 UK public health bodies and informed by NHS infection prevention control experts.
See here for tables that summarise the recommended PPE for use in care environments:
UNISON believes that all workers delivering care should be able to access the right PPE whenever they deem it necessary to carry out their duties safely. Whilst we want members to continue to be able to carry out their duties we will defend the right of workers who are asked to put themselves or those they are caring for at undue risk of contracting Covid-19 without the necessary protection.
Should you be in a position where you do not have the recommended PPE to carry out a task safely then we advise you to raise it with your manager and, if you do not quickly gain access to the PPE you need, then please raise it with UNISON by calling your local UNISON branch or the regional enquiry line on 0113 2182627. We also have a checklist and model letters on our website that you can refer to.
Just as you are there to protect the most vulnerable in society, UNISON will remain by your side to protect you. If you have any concerns about this or any other matter, please do not hesitate to contact the branch. You can also keep up-to-date with the latest UNISON advice by visiting https://www.unison.org.uk/coronavirus-rights-work/
With best wishes