Face Mask Challenge

How can we supply clinical staff with more appropriately fitting, safe and economical respiratory protection and ensure delivery of an assured fit in a more efficient manner?

The challenge called on business and academia to find innovative solutions to ensure adequate fitting and safe respiratory protection for all face shapes and sizes.

This competition has ended.

Clinical services have had to accommodate huge changes in the way that they operate as a result of COVID-19 due to additional infection control precautions.

Many health care services increase the risk of exposure to the Covid-19 infection and, potentially, other respiratory pathogens. The widespread use of enhanced-level PPE or Personal Protective Equipment (defined as level 2 in Wales) which includes use of disposable (single-use) face mask respirators known as FFP3 masks has now become accepted essential practice.

The fit of an FFP3 respirator mask is somewhat bespoke compared to the fit of the traditional type of mask previously used by many professionals. It is essential to ensure that the respirator mask for each individual is the correct size and design and provides an adequate seal or fit. An inadequate fit increases the potential for exposure to infection.

The design origins of many current commercially available respirators derive from industrial rather than healthcare applications. The full range of facial shapes and sizes is not universally represented or available. The result is that many healthcare staff, especially those with a smaller frame may find it difficult to “fit” to the currently available types, and alternative, more expensive solutions such as PAPR hoods may need to be sourced. In some cases, individuals may not even be able to carry out their normal duties, due to lack of availability suitable facial/respiratory PPE.

The process of fit-testing staff to the respirators supplied can also take a substantial amount of staff time away from clinical situations, in particular if the only or limited range of available respirator mask being tried (“fitted”) is not at all of suitable type or size for that individual.

Furthermore, solutions meeting fit and safety standards that also enhance the patient experience and that are environmentally friendly are an additional benefit.

For the full challenge brief please go to Resources