Transparent face masks make communication easier for staff and patients

Transparent face masks are now available across healthcare settings in Tayside to help those with communication needs.

Wednesday, 2nd February 2022, 3:05pm
Transparent face masks make communication easier for staff and patients

Wearing a face mask can create a barrier for people who are hearing impaired or have a health condition that stops them engaging effectively. NHS Tayside has now introduced clear face masks that will help reduce the communication challenges for staff and patients.

The masks feature a clear front panel which has been positioned to prevent reflection to enable lip reading.

Jurgita Turner from the Interpretation and Translation team, who has been trialing the masks in recent weeks, said: “We are delighted to now have a supply of these transparent masks which has made it easier to interact with patients.

“For our interpreters, the clear masks help to convey facial expressions that are essential grammatical components for those who use British Sign Language.

“Patients are already singing their praises as it means we can communicate with them clearly, while staying safe at the same time.”

Sam Batty, Head of Service for Audiology, who has also been using the masks, added: “The clear masks have greatly benefited our patients, especially those with severe or profound hearing loss.

“The feedback has been brilliant, with patients now able to lip read, as well as use their hearing aids, which makes communication much easier for them.”

Patients who feel they would benefit from staff wearing a clear mask should advise the team on arrival at their appointment.

In addition to wearing the masks, patients and health and social care providers should also continue to maintain physical distancing wherever possible.

Since the start of the pandemic, the use of standard face masks has made it more difficult for people who are hard of hearing or who have difficulty in communicating.

Not only do the masks reduce the volume of speech, but they make it more difficult for individuals to use facial cues or expressions and lip read.

In addition to speaking slowly and clearly, clear face masks can help restore these important visual cues and help individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing communicate more easily.

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