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Different types of Personal Protective Equipment in Health and Social Care

What are the different types of Personal Protective Equipment in Health and Social Care?

PPE or personal protective equipment has been in widespread use for many years now, particularly in the health and social care sector. There are many use cases of different types of PPE in health and social care today in order to protect doctors and healthcare workers from coming into contact from bodily fluids, germs, viruses and other infectious agents. These include specialized masks, gloves and gowns, among other things.

In most cases, the different types of personal protective equipment in health and social care is typically meant for one-time use only. Healthcare workers are required to follow strict usage protocols, and remove the PPE in the correct manner, while disposing them appropriately as well.

If you’re serving in the health or social care sector, then you’re probably asking yourself: when do I need to wear different types of PPE in a care home or what are the different personal protective equipment types I can use in a hospital?

Well, the short answer to this is that your hospital or care home management will have specific procedures, policies and protocols for you to follow. Some of these may be applicable on a national scale, which means all healthcare environments need to comply with them, while others may be applicable locally, which means that they are meant specifically for your work environment.

Protocols and policies aside, this article focuses specifically on the types of PPE used in a healthcare and social care setting.

Understanding the different types of PPE in Health and Social Care

The following are two of the most common PPE items that you are likely to come across in nearly every healthcare and social care setting: disposable gloves and disposable plastic aprons.

However, there are quite a few different types of PPE used in health and social care settings, and from time to time, you may be advised by your manager to use them when the need arises.

For now, let’s focus on 5 types of PPE in healthcare today:

Disposable gloves

Nitrile Gloves

Disposable gloves are needed every time you are involved in a procedure where the risk of contact with broken skin, bodily fluids, non-sanitized or dirty instruments as well as harmful substances like disinfectants and chemicals is present.

Therefore, it’s important to use gloves under specific circumstances only and not on a ‘just in case’ or routine basis. For example:

  • When there’s a risk of getting splashed with bodily fluids from the patient such as urine, faeces, saliva, blood, sputum or vomit.
  • Where there’s contact with the patient’s nose, eyes, lips, ears, mouth or genital area, or when instruments have come into contact with any of the above.
  • When there’s contact with a cut or open wound.
  • When you are handling potentially harmful or dangerous substances like disinfectants and other chemicals specifically used in a healthcare or care home setting.

Gloves should be taken off right after a procedure, and you must wash your hands properly after disposing them.

Disposable aprons

PPE Disposable Apron

Although disposable aprons are not required under day-to-day duties within a day care or healthcare setting, like serving food and drink to your patient or taking them for a walk, you may need them when:

  • Conducting or assisting in a medical procedure where bodily fluids may be splashed
  • Helping a patient with personal hygiene tasks
  • Performing cleaning and tidying tasks in your patient’s quarters, like making the bed.

Before putting on your disposable apron, proper hand hygiene is required, and the same applies when you remove it and dispose of it in the clinical waste bin.

Eye protection, visors and full face protection

Googles PPE

Proper eye and face protection are a must where there’s a risk of body fluids splashing onto your eyes and nose. Goggles and visors are among the different types of PPE in the care and health sector as they provide the right level of protection for the eyes.

Face shields are used to protect the mouth and nose area and are often discarded after a single use. However, certain kinds of protective goggles, visors and face shields can be put into a receptacle for reprocessing and reuse.

Surgical masks 

PPE Fluid Resistant Face Mask, Apron and Goggles

When it comes to the different types of PPE in health and social care, fluid repellent surgical masks are probably the most common type of protective equipment that many people are familiar with.

These provide a protective barrier to help guard against splashes and droplets, preventing them from coming into contact with the nose, mouth and respiratory tract. However, they do not offer protection against aerosolised particles.

For all medical surgeries and procedures, healthcare workers are required to wear surgical masks. It’s common to see doctors and nurses wear fluid-repellent masks with integrated eye visors while performing procedures.

FFP3 respirator masks

In certain health and social care settings, you may need to protect yourself against pathogens which can easily spread through the air, such as tuberculosis, chickenpox or measles – or when performing aerosol-generating procedures where patients are suspected to have respiratory tract infections.

FFP3 respirators need to be changed after each use or when they are visibly soiled.

KN95 Face Mask

When it comes to different types of PPE in health and social care, TRUE PPE designs and manufactures medical grade surgical face masks as well as respirators – all FDA and CE approved. Additionally, we offer NIOSH and CDC approved KN95 and N95 respirators, which are ideal for use in a variety of healthcare and social care settings.

Our face masks come with replaceable HEPA filters, giving the wearer unmatched comfort and protection against a broad range of airborne viruses and germs.

We also offer other medically certified PPE manufactured to the highest standards such an nitrile gloves, hand wipes, disinfectants and fogger machines which will keep your environment clean and sanitized 24/7.

While there’s a general shortage of quality PPE equipment across the country, we have dedicated stock to help social care and healthcare workers perform their job with the utmost confidence and peace of mind.