latest health care news

15.04.20

Government offers commitment to facilitate testing in social care settings

As capacity to test for coronavirus is built up over the coming weeks, all care home residents and social care staff with Covid-19 symptoms will be tested, the government is expected to announce later today.

The announcement comes amid criticism of the current testing model in social care settings, whereby at present only the first five symptomatic residents in a care home setting are tested to provide confirmation of whether or not there is an outbreak.

However, as lab capacity continues to increase, the UK government is seeking to expand that testing out to include all care home residents showing signs of the virus.

All care residents who are symptomatic will be tested, as will patients who are discharged from hospitals prior to them going into care homes. All social care staff who need testing will also have access to one, with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) set to contact all 30,000 care providers in the coming days to offer testing.

Testing of all potential care home residents before they are discharged from hospital was also been highlighted as a priority area to safeguard fellow residents and staff, and to provide reassurance and peace of mind to residents and family members. It will also assist care providers in taking appropriate action to ensure that social care workers and other residents are safe – including the implementation of isolation procedures for those who test positive.

The confirmed government measures are expected to be further outlined in the government’s Covid-19 social care action plan, set to be published tomorrow (April 16, 2020) and will help provide reassurance to residents, their families and those that they care for.

READ MORE: Health Secretary outlines plans for 100k coronavirus tests a day

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Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, said: “I am deeply conscious that people in residential care are among the most vulnerable to coronavirus.

“We are doing everything we can to keep workers, residents and their families safe, and I am determined to ensure that everyone who needs a coronavirus test should be able to have access to one.

“We have already begun testing social care workers and will roll this out nationwide over the coming days. And as we continue to ramp up our testing programme, we will test all current care home residents with coronavirus symptoms and all new care home residents who are discharged from hospital into care.

“Testing is key in our battle against coronavirus, and as part of our plan to prevent the spread and save lives we will ensure that everyone in social care who needs a test can have a test.”

Dedicated testing has already begun across the country for frontline staff, including social care workers, as well as more than 20,000 tests for NHS workers and their families. As that rollout continues, the Health Secretary was keen to pledge that every social care worker who needed a test would be entitled to one.

CQC are leading coordination efforts for testing the care sector and have already offered 6,000 care facilities the opportunity to test their staff. By the end of the week, they are seeking to have contacted all 30,000 care providers around the country.

Care providers will then identify workers eligible for testing and refer them to their local testing centre.

Widespread testing for social care staff and residents represent one part of the government’s ambitious plans to achieve 100,000 tests a day for Covid-19 by the end of April.

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