Another early morning walk and posted the first of my crocheted face mask adaptors, one to a neonatal nurse who lives just around the corner. It felt quite nice to post them off hoping that they will be of use to busy staff having to work long hours in awful PPE that is unbelievably uncomfortable. I am lucky that I am no longer front line and not having to wear this kit and I know many of them are working at least 12 hour shifts. If you can imagine the pain of elastic from the face mask ear loops chafing your ear over that period of time, you will get the idea of the level of discomfort. I always hated wearing the hair cap and masks in theatres and couldn’t wait to rip them off after a shift. The fact that the caps made your hair plastered to your head, did nothing for you if you were lucky enough to be going on a date after work!

The debate around the crocheted face mask adaptors has been interesting. Some of my infection control colleagues are allowing them to be used, others have decided against them. The fact they are made out of cotton yarn, have plastic buttons and can be washed with scrubs should help, however some people are making them in wool or acrylic materials and wooden buttons, so you can see the dilemma. Others are saying what is the difference between them and a hair bobble, and some are only allowing the material headbands with buttons on for the face mask ear loops to be put onto. I have linked into my networks to see which areas are allowing them and which are not, to save peoples hard work going into the bin when they are dropped off. I am part of a national Facebook craft group making them and I think the lead of the group is appreciating my help.

My own personal opinion is that they are suitable for non high risk areas, if staff are following the appropriate putting on (donning) and taking off (doffing) of personal protective equipment (PPE) as well as hand hygiene. The high risk areas use different masks anyway so not an issue there. The feedback that I have had from carers and nurses is that it takes the pressure off their ears, stops the mask slipping over their eyes/off their mouth. This would in turn reduce the risk of them having to keep touching the mask to adjust it because its uncomfortable or not sitting right on the face. It is one of those anomalies that will not be written in a guidance document or policy but needs a pragmatic approach for an overwhelmed workforce in unprecedented times.