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Council workers switch to ‘smile masks’ to communicate with service users

Date Published: 31 July 2020
Smile masks

People who get assistance through Rutland County Council’s supported living services can better understand their support workers thanks to new see-through ‘smile masks’.

The move to using this new style of more ‘friendly’ reusable mask was made following feedback from some of the Council’s supported living tenants. Many of the tenants rely on visual cues for effective communication, like lip-reading and facial expressions.

Rutland County Council provides a supported living service for people ranging in age from 18 to 70, and with varying and complex needs such as learning difficulties, autism and hearing loss.

Staff visit round the clock to provide care and assistance so it’s vital that appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is worn to reduce the spread of Covid-19, but tenants feel confident and comfortable to communicate with their workers.

“Effective communication between staff and our supported living tenants is fundamental, so we were keen to find a solution to the barrier imposed by traditional face masks, which mean visual communication cues are no longer possible. We were thrilled to secure a stock of ‘smile masks’ from a very sympathetic supplier who, in lieu of payment, asked only for a contribution to be made to their charity of choice. We were pleased to honour that agreement and have since donated £240 to Cancer Research UK. Although staff would normally wear casual clothing in our supported living services, in the current situation we’ve introduced the use of scrubs to add additional protection measures. We’ve just taken delivery of a very generous donation of scrubs that have been sensitively designed with prints and characters to help reduce anxiety among our service users. Our sincere thanks to our tenants’ families and the Love of Scrubs for their kind support.”
Councillor Alan Waters, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health

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