Innovative headwear to support BAME colleagues to wear PPE safely and comfortably

An idea by ward manager Noni Nyathi (pictured) to help black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) colleagues wear PPE in Covid-secure areas has led to redesigned headwear being purchased by the Trust to support staff and a permanent change is being made to our Dress Code and Uniform Policy.  

During the first wave of the pandemic, BAME staff said that wearing PPE was a particular challenge, most notably wearing fit-masks and being unable to wash their hair after a shift due to having natural afro hair. Noni began wearing a head covering when on shift at the Emergency Medical Admissions ward, St Mary’s Hospital, and other colleagues talked about their own challenges wearing PPE. It became clear to Noni that this was a common but unspoken problem BAME staff were facing before and during the pandemic.

Bringing this to the attention of her manager and the nursing and midwifery BAME group, Noni began working with procurement and senior nursing teams to find product solutions. The samples were tested with nursing colleagues on the ward and the Trust has now purchased 2,800 hair caps. The products will be available to order from the beginning of December. Longer term, this work has made the Trust think of other practical challenges faced by staff wearing uniforms. The Trust’s Strategic PPE group have also provided longer tie surgical face masks, mask holders and alternative isolation/sterile gown sizing.

Director of nursing Professor Janice Sigsworth said: "From ward to board, nurses and midwives at our Trust work together in partnership as part of one team. Hearing and responding to the needs of our staff, especially during the unprecedented situation surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic, is vital to help us deliver safe and high-quality care. I'm really pleased that we'll soon be able to offer head covers to all our staff who may need them."