COVID-19: extension to care home testing for vulnerable people rolled out in England

Adult care homes for under-65s with learning disabilities or mental health conditions can order tests online

Picture: Alamy

Care homes for people with learning disabilities or mental health conditions in England will now be able to access COVID-19 testing, after the government announced an extension to its testing system.

Previously, only care homes for the over-65s and those caring for people with dementia were prioritised for testing.

Now, all adult care homes for under-65s can order tests for coronavirus through an online portal, even if staff and residents are not displaying symptoms of the disease, helping to reach around 6,000 more homes.

Testing asymptomatic care home workers to help prevent and control outbreaks

The hope is that testing asymptomatic care home workers will help prevent and control outbreaks because those who test positive can be isolated, reducing the number of people who can spread the virus.

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Minister for care Helen Whately said opening up whole care home testing to the entire social care sector would protect the most vulnerable. 

Organisations representing care providers have welcomed the move, including the National Care Forum (NCF), which supports 120 not-for-profit care providers.

Regular and repeat testing must be accessible for people who receive care

NCF executive director Vic Rayner said: ‘Testing of all those receiving care and the staff delivering it has been recognised as an absolute priority.’

Vic Rayner

Ms Rayner added that ‘regular and repeat testing’ needed to be accessible for everyone who receives care.

She said: ‘It is proving to be an absolutely essential tool in the fight against COVID-19.’

New taskforce set up to advise ending COVID-19 transmissions

Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show 11,614 deaths in care homes related to COVID-19 between 11 April and 5 June.

A new taskforce has also been set up to advise on a plan to support the care sector and end community transmission of the COVID-19 virus, with representatives from across government and the social care sector.

The Social Care Sector Covid-19 Support Taskforce chair David Pearson said it would play an important part in reducing the risk of coronavirus transmission in the sector.

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