Personal protective equipment use in health and disability care settings

Guidance on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) in health and disability care settings.

Last updated: 11 February 2021

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Health workers can download the Āwhina app to stay up-to-date on the latest information relevant to COVID-19 and the health and disability sector.

When to use PPE

The first lines of defence to reduce your risk of getting or spreading infections, including COVID-19 are:

  • staying home if you’re unwell
  • hand hygiene
  • respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette
  • not touching your face
  • regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces
  • physical distancing where possible and practical.

PPE is not needed in all interactions. Its use needs to be considered as part of a range of activities that reduce the risk of transmission of infection when used correctly, and in the appropriate context. Before putting PPE on, remember to ask the key risk assessment questions about a person’s health status

In addition to Standard Precautions, you should use Transmission Based Precautions with patients who are probable or confirmed cases of COVID-19, or meet the Clinical and Higher Index of Suspicion (HIS) criteria, as well as patients with acute respiratory and influenza-like illnesses. Read more information on Standard and Transmission-Based Precautions.

How to use PPE

It’s important to use PPE correctly and safely for the work you are doing.

This guidance is based on the best available evidence and is in line with World Health Organization guidelines. It will be updated as we move through this pandemic and the New Zealand context of COVID-19 evolves.

General PPE advice in health and disability care settings for COVID-19

This PPE guidance should be read in conjunction with the Frequently Asked Questions.

It’s important to consider if you need PPE or not before putting it on. These posters will help you decide based on whether you know the person you are interacting with has probable or confirmed COVID-19 (or they meet the Clinical and Higher Index of Suspicion criteria), or whether the person's COVID-19 status is unknown.

If a person’s COVID-19 status is unknown, there are some risk assessment questions you need to ask ideally ahead of the interaction (ie, phoning the client before visit or with signage at your health facility), or if not possible, while maintaining the required distance dependent on the current Alert Level for your region.

No matter what someone’s COVID-19 status is, you should always follow routine infection prevention and control precautions (Standard Precautions as well as any necessary Transmission Based Precautions) for all care.

COVID-19 status unknown

COVID-19 status probable or confirmed

PPE use in specific health and disability care settings

Masks and gloves

Risk assessments should be undertaken to determine whether masks or gloves, and which type, are required. If they are required, the following guidelines have been developed to ensure the appropriate mask or gloves are worn in the healthcare setting.



Posters and guidance specific to different health and disability care settings are also available.




Working in people’s place of residence:

Working in client’s homes:


Taking swabs

Role of face masks and respirators

Read information on the use of N95/P2 respirators in health and disability care settings, and advice for fit testing and fit checking them.

Putting on and taking off PPE

See the poster for putting on (donning) and taking off (doffing) PPE safely.

Hand hygiene posters and hand washing and PPE videos are also available.

Updates to this page

Our advice is under active review and is updated regularly as the COVID-19 context in New Zealand changes.

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