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Hi, I'm Alison McMillan, Australia's Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer. 

I know many of you in the disability support sector have questions about how and when you should be wearing personal protective equipment, or PPE. 

This is particularly concerning for workers who need to provide hands-on care, who have close physical contact with clients. 

But before I talk to you about when and how you should wear PPE, there are other things you should do to minimise the risk. 

Firstly, please don't go to work if you are unwell, even if you have the mildest symptoms.

Follow good hygiene practices, handwashing with soap and water, or using alcohol-based sanitiser before and after any client contact. 

Try not to touch your face, however tempting it might be to do so, and regularly clean and disinfect surfaces. 

Where possible, work in a well ventilated area, or minimise your time in an enclosed area and maintain distancing of 1.5 metres whenever possible. 

All of these things will help protect you and reduce the risk of infection. 

You should always follow standard precautions to ensure infection prevention and control. 

Full PPE must be worn whenever you are delivering personal care to someone with a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19. 

This is because an infected person may produce respiratory droplets transmitting the virus.

You do not have to wear PPE when providing services to all clients. 

When you do wear PPE, you need to think about how this will affect your client.

In particular, masks can make communication with hearing impaired clients more difficult. 

People with intellectual or development disabilities may become fearful or anxious. 

If your care recipients are concerned about PPE, please take the time to explain the right use to them and their families. 

And it's important to reassure them before providing care. 

Care recipients with suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 will be cared for in isolation. 

When you're working in the same room, providing personal care or other care, you will need to wear a gown, surgical mask, protective eye wear and gloves. 

And now I'll show you how to put on and remove PPE.

Before putting on PPE, you must wash your hands with alcohol-based sanitiser or soap and water. 

First, put on your gown, fully cover your torso from neck to knee, arms to the end of the wrists and wrap around the back. 

Fasten at the neck and the waist. 

Next, you put on a surgical mask. With a surgical mask, the white side sits towards the face. Secure the ties, the middle of the back of your head and neck. 

Fit the flexible band to the bridge of your nose and fit snugly to your face and below your chin. 

Eye protection comes next. Glasses are easy to put on. Splash shields or goggles should be placed on your eyes and face and adjusted to fit. 

Finally, you need to put on gloves. When you put on gloves, extend them to cover the wrists of the gown.

After treating a care recipient, start to remove PPE while you're still in the room. 

When removing gloves, the principles are demonstrated here. 

Do not let the outside of the gloves touch your exposed skin. 

Once removed, discard the gloves immediately into a waste container and hygiene your hands.

To remove the gown, unfasten the gown ties. Take care that the sleeves do not contact your body when reaching for the ties. 

Pull the gown away from your neck and shoulders. Make sure you only touch the inside of the gown. 

Turn the gown inside out. Then fold or roll into a bundle and discard in a waste container and hygiene your hands. 

Then step out of the room. 

Outside of the room, remove protective glasses by holding the arms. 

Once removed, clean reusable equipment or discard disposable items in a waste container and hygiene your hands.

To remove the mask, undo the bottom ties or elastics, then grasp the top ones. 

Do not touch the front of the mask. 

Discard immediately into a waste container. 

Immediately after removing all PPE, hygiene your hands again using soap and water or an alcohol-based sanitiser. 

PPE can safely be removed in other orders, but always gloves first and mask last.

To protect yourself you need to avoid contaminating your clothing, skin, eyes, nose or mouth when taking off used PPE, so always make sure not to touch the front of any items.

If you're providing in-home care, take away all used PPE and a bio hazard, and double bag it, washing your hands between tying up each bag. 

If you have any questions about when or how to wear PPE, go to health.gov.au 

The work you are doing is so important to support many Australians living with disabilities. 

If we continue to work together, we can maximise their quality of life and reduce the spread of COVID and save lives. 

And please remember always to wash your hands. 

Thank you.

Video type: 
Training
Description: 

Watch this video to find out how and when disability support workers should wear personal protective equipment (PPE).