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15th Jul 2021
Alder Hey, together with Bluetree Medical have produced a medical grade transparent face mask to improve communication with our patients.
The BrillianSeeTM face mask was designed after Alder Hey Speech & Language Therapist, Wendy Blumenow asked for a solution to delivering therapy while wearing a standard surgical mask. The mask is ideal for supporting communication with those who have hearing difficulties, patients or service users with cognitive problems, younger or vulnerable patients and those with learning disabilities.
The idea came to life after Wendy found children in her care struggled with their speech therapy because they could not see her face during therapy sessions. Alder Hey set about designing a transparent mask to address Wendy’s issues and worked with Bluetree Medical to bring it to market. Taking delivery of the first masks, Wendy said: “This will make a huge difference to the children in my care– they will finally be able to see my face and benefit from their speech therapy while staying protected from Covid-19”.
The new transparent masks will also be rolled out across Alder Hey and be used by numerous teams, not just Speech & Language therapists. Hospitals and health care professionals will still be able to require patients and visitors to wear masks unless they are exempt, after Public Health England (PHE) said existing guidance on Covid infection control will continue beyond 19 July.
Around half of Brits (46%) are believed to lip read as part of everyday communication, with a third stating seeing whole faces makes them feel more comfortable (29%). A recent 2,000 person survey on face mask wearing found 26% people believe they miss important information; 23% say they have difficulty understanding when they can’t read lips and 22% put it down to not seeing the whole facial expression. This is particularly important in a healthcare setting, where doctors and nurses may have limited time to relay information to their patients.
The BrillianSeeTM mask offers improved communication compared with other masks as you can see the face clearly, allowing for improved reading and interpretation of non-verbal cues. These features are essential when the patient has difficulties such as deafness and other communications issues which mean they need to lip read in order to understand what is being said to them.
Iain Hennessey, Consultant Paediatric and Neonatal Surgeon and Clinical Director of the Innovation Hub at Alder Hey said: “This partnership is a great example of what can be achieved when we work collaboratively. We’re delighted with the result. BrillianSeeTM gives healthcare professionals and patients a much better experience while keeping them safe. We plan to introduce these masks across the hospital all paediatric departments soon as possible.”
The product is a UKCA marked medical device registered with the MHRA and offers protection comparable to a Type II surgical mask.
Alder Hey Children's Charity