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Should people living with PSP or CBD wear a face mask?

From Friday 24 July, it became a legal requirement for people to wear a face mask or covering in shops, pubs and on public transport.

People living with PSP & CBD and many older carers are at higher risk from coronavirus and should pay particular attention to Government guidance, where possible.

There are however, some exemptions to these guidelines, so we’ve pulled together some useful information and advice to help.

Why do people need to wear a face mask?

Wearing a face mask helps reduce the risk of you potentially spreading coronavirus to other people. It may also mean you are a little less likely to catch coronavirus from someone else too.

A face covering is particularly important in enclosed spaces, such as while out shopping or on public transport, and if you’re around strangers.

Even with distancing measures in place, people will often get closer in shops or on public transport and the virus is more concentrated in enclosed spaces. A face covering can help reduce some of this risk.

If it makes you feel safer, try also wearing a face mask even when you are walking outdoors in public places. But you don’t have to wear a face covering in your own home, unless you’re unwell with the virus and self-isolating.

What does the UK law say on wearing a face covering?

It is now compulsory in England for anyone aged 11 or over to wear a face covering on public transport, in NHS facilities as a visitor or outpatient, or inside shops.

Face coverings are required on public transport in Northern Ireland and (from 27 July) in Wales. In both countries they are recommended, but not required, in other enclosed spaces such as shops.

The only exemptions to this guidance, are:

  • The individual cannot physically put on or wear a face covering.
  • Wearing the face covering would cause the individual severe distress.
  • Someone with them needs to read their lips to communicate.
  • They need to remove the face covering temporarily to eat, drink or take medication.

If you are worried a member of staff on public transport or in a shop challenge you or a loved one about why you are not wearing a face mask, please explain they have a rare brain disease called PSP or CBD.

Need help explaining why a face mask can’t be worn?

Keep a copy of one of our PSP or CBD Medical Alert cards on your person when you are out in the community. Show this to anyone who challenges you, to help explain what the conditions are and how they impact you or your loved one.

What if a person living with PSP or CBD won’t wear a face covering?

It’s safer for everyone if we all follow the guidance on face coverings. However, try to understand why, if the person finds wearing a face covering difficult or distressing.

Due to cognition changes, they may simply forget why it’s needed, so please be patient and offer encouragement – if you show frustration or irritation, the person will pick up on this.

A reminder on your front door, may also be helpful in remembering to take your face coverings out with you as well as reinforce why they are needed.

Offer reassurance if they become anxious they will not be able to breath properly whilst wearing the mask. Try different fabrics to see if one is more comfortable.

Disposable face masks have standardised fittings, so check if the mask is sitting too tight or loose on the individual’s face. Check the ear or head fastenings to ensure it fits comfortably.

If explanations and reassurance doesn’t work, and wearing the mask would cause the person distress, then you are within the law to give this as a reasonable excuse for the person not to cover their face.

How can I communicate if I have my face covered?

Even if the person living with PSP or CBD isn’t wearing a face covering, you may still be wearing one at times, and this could affect how you communicate with each other.

Seeing you wear a mask, may be unsettling for the person because they cannot read your facial expressions. Or perhaps they can’t hear your voice as clearly.

To help whilst wearing a mask, try using short, simple phrases, supported with hand gestures. Think carefully about the tone of your voice – be clear, calm and friendly. Speak a bit louder if you can.

Remember to smile. Even though your smile is hidden, your eyes communicate the warmth. And think about non-verbal cues, such as your body language (calm, open, friendly). Gently mirror the person’s gestures if that helps connect you.

Above all, be empathetic. Try to understand how the person is feeling – ask them if possible – and support them as patiently as you can.

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