Personal protective equipment (PPE) is an important part of protecting our colleagues and customers. Within our stores, we have worked hard to provide all of our opticians, audiologists and support team with PPE so that we can continue to carry-out our services safely. Find out more about the kinds of PPE we’ll be using within our stores and during appointments below.
What is personal protective equipment (PPE)?
Personal protective equipment (PPE) refers to any safety apparatus worn or used by a person in order to minimise their exposure to various hazards. This can include anything from gloves and aprons, to face masks and eye protection.
When used in public working environments, the purpose of PPE is to keep everybody safe — from those performing services, to the members of public they come into contact with. More and more, you may begin seeing PPE being used in a range of public spaces, from local supermarkets to health centres.
Within our stores, you’ll notice that a number of our opticians, audiologists and support team will now be wearing various forms of PPE, alongside practising social distancing measures. This is to ensure that everyone in our stores remains as safe as possible.
Are opticians and audiologists required to wear PPE?
When it comes to the requirements around PPE in medical settings, our opticians and audiologists are guided by a number of organisations and professional bodies:
The UK’s public health bodies and the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges include opticians (optometry) under their list of essential primary care providers who should be wearing some form of PPE when examining customers. We are in full support of this guidance, which means you can expect your optician to be wearing a range of personal protective equipment, including gloves, aprons, surgical masks and eye protection, depending on the scenario.
All of our audiologists will be following the latest guidance from the British Society of Hearing Aid Audiologists, supported by the Infection Prevention Society and ENT UK, on the correct type and level of PPE that is required to perform our services safely. So, just like our opticians, this means that you can expect to see your audiologist wearing various forms of PPE, depending on the service they are providing and the level of contact it requires.
You can find out more about the kinds of PPE we’ll be using within our team below, and our staff will always be on-hand to answer any questions you may have.
How is PPE being used in Specsavers stores?
We have worked hard to provide our opticians, audiologists and support with PPE in order to keep everyone safe in our stores. So, when you next visit us, you’ll notice our staff members wearing a range of PPE for different scenarios.
We will be following social distancing measures in our stores by ensuring that customers keep two metres apart wherever possible. However, all of our support team who will need to be in close proximity to customers (within less than two metres) will be wearing face masks. This is so that we can continue to provide the high-level of service you’d expect from us, while keeping our customers and colleagues safe.
During eye and hearing appointments
To carry out eye and hearing tests properly, some of our clinical team will need to come into close proximity with customers for extended periods of time in our examination rooms. In order to do so safely, they may need to wear additional forms of PPE. All of our optometrists, audiologists and support team have carried out specific training in order to assess which PPE will need to be worn during your appointment.
Before every customer, your optician or audiologist will always put on new PPE to ensure that everything is sterile for your examination. We’ve put together some safe and simple PPE guidelines for our clinical team to follow, which includes:
- Washing hands thoroughly and/or using hand sanitiser before every new customer
- Wearing a face mask
- Wearing eye protection or a face visor if required
- Putting on a new pair of gloves and apron
This PPE will be worn for the duration of your appointment and disposed of safely before the next customer. During your test, extra modifications such as Perspex shields may also be added to equipment, for example on the slit lamps we use to examine your eyes, where necessary.
If you have any questions about the use of PPE, feel free to ask your optician or audiologist at any point during your appointment — or alternately, our experts will be happy to discuss our approach via a RemoteCare video or phone call prior to your visit.
Will customers be required to wear PPE or face coverings in Specsavers stores?
Government advice on the public’s use of PPE is continually changing. While it is not currently mandatory, wearing face coverings in some public spaces is recommended, and customers are more than welcome to wear them within our stores. In some cases, you might be asked to wear face coverings to your appointment. In Scotland and Wales it is mandatory to wear a face covering unless you are in an exempt category.
We’ll keep you updated should this change at any point, but it’s worth calling your local store ahead of your visit to be sure you have the most up-to-date information.
What official guidance on PPE and face coverings is Specsavers following?
We’re following all of the official guidance on PPE available to ensure that we keep our customers and colleagues safe in store. In particular, we are following the guidance that the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, Public Health Wales, Health Protection Scotland, Public Health England and the Public Health Agency have all agreed to. We’ll also be stringently observing any announcements from the Government and professional bodies in the coming weeks to ensure that our information and practices remain up to date. So you can rest assured that any changes we make will always be in accordance with official guidelines.
What other steps are Specsavers taking to keep customers safe in store?
We’ve made a number of changes within our stores to ensure that your visit is a safe and pleasant experience — from following social distancing and hygiene measures, to using cashless payment where possible. Find out more about what to expect from your new Specsavers store experience here.
Before visiting us in store, it’s also worth considering what help might be available to you online. In some cases, we might recommend that you use our free RemoteCare service to speak with one of our experts about your care needs via phone or video call. You can even order a new pair of glasses on our website.
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