Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Testing for Carers

Last Updated 21/07/2022 at 12:00

In order to prevent the spread of coronavirus and limit the risk of infection, you might have heard about Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). PPE includes alcohol hand gel, a gown, a visor or goggles, and a special kind of face mask called a respirator. PPE is available to some unpaid carers across Scotland who need it.

Unpaid carers are classed as key workers and are included in the priority groups for coronavirus testing. The Scottish Government website has information for carers on how to get tested in Scotland. Find out more below.

Do carers need to use PPE? 


Most caring situations will not require the use of PPE and there is no need to begin to use it, unless you believe you are eligible.

No additional PPE for COVID-19 is required unless you or the person you care for is symptomatic of COVID-19, however, face coverings should be worn in line with Scottish Government advice. See the sections below.

Who will be able to access PPE? 

PPE will still be available to unpaid carers if the person they care for is showing symptoms of coronavirus.

Find out more about who might be eligible for PPE on the Scottish Government's website.

How do I access PPE? 

Using the Scottish Government advice as a guide, if you require PPE and can’t get it through your normal routes you will be able to access it through your local carers centre. You can find your local carers centre on the Care Information Scotland website.

If your local carers centre is unavailable and you cannot wait until it reopens, you can call the NHS National Services Scotland (NSS) Social Care PPE Support Centre on 0300 303 3020.

What should I expect if I request PPE? 

When you make contact with the carers centre or PPE support centre, you should expect to be asked a number of questions to establish your eligibility and level of priority. 

Questions are likely to cover things such as the type of care you provide and how often. For example, if you are providing personal care you will be asked how many sets of PPE you are likely to use. You may also be asked questions on whether or not you are able to travel to pick-up supplies of PPE from a local hub.

Your local carers centre will then guide you as to what happens next, based on how they are managing things locally and your own circumstances.

What PPE do I need? 

Whether you need to use PPE, and the type of PPE that you need to use, will depend on your unique caring situation. For example, if you usually wear an apron and gloves in order to carry out personal care, then you should continue to do so. If you, or the person you care for, is at high risk or has the symptoms of coronavirus, you may also wish to wear a mask. You should read the Scottish Government advice and your local carers centre will be able to help you with understanding what you need to wear and when.

I can still get PPE in the way I normally do, do I now need to order through my local carers centre instead?

No, if you are still able to access affordable PPE that you require through your normal supply routes, or if you already have stock, then you should continue to use it. It may be that you have a stock of gloves and aprons but you now need masks. If so, you can access them through your local carers centre.

How do I know if I am using PPE correctly? 

Using PPE for the first time, or using items you are not familiar with, can sometimes be confusing. Follow the instructions provided with any PPE that you're using. You might find this video below by Health Protection Scotland useful.

It might also be useful to remind yourself of the general advice on infection control and good hand hygiene on the NHS Inform website.

Access to COVID-19 Testing for Unpaid Carers

Unpaid carers can access testing for COVID-19, and there is support available to those who require care if a carer is unable to provide essential care for someone due to suspected or confirmed COVID-19.

There is no longer a requirement to confirm positive rapid lateral flow test results with a PCR test.

Unpaid carers can continue to order free rapid lateral flow tests from the online portal or by calling 119.

You can order one pack every 3 days if you’re eligible. A pack contains 7 tests. Your test pack will usually arrive within 3 days. It might take longer during busy periods or public holidays.

Alternative Care Package

If carers, family and friends are unable to provide essential care for someone due to suspected or confirmed COVID-19, or any other reason, they should contact their local social work department. Find the social work department contact details for your local authority.

Carers who do not already have an emergency plan in place may also want to talk with family and friends about who could take over their caring role if they become ill or need to self-isolate – particularly while social work services are under additional pressure during the coronavirus outbreak.

Local carer centres are also able to support carers with the preparation of an emergency plan. It will also be important to make sure that you have key information about the person you care for easily available - so that anyone taking over their care has all the information they need

You can find your local carers centre and seek assistance.

Where can I go for more information? 

Full advice for unpaid carers providing personal care, including information on when to wear PPE, is available on the Scottish Government website.

You can also find more information and resources from Young Scot for young people about coronavirus (COVID-19).