Government Announces New Care Home Testing Taskforce
The Government has announced the launch of a testing taskforce dedicated to controlling levels of COVID-19 in care homes across England. This move to prioritise care home staff and residents will shed light on the amount of virus cases in these locations and help move toward managing any outbreaks endangering people living and working in care homes. ‘Whole home’ testing is now set to be available for all care homes across England, including adult care homes for the over-65s and centres catering for people with learning disabilities or mental health problems. Both symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals are eligible.
Until present, Government has provided 1,071,103 test kits to 8,984 care homes and now has capacity to send out 5,000 testing kits to care homes per day. Representatives from the social care home sector will be included in the overseeing of the testing plans and will implement roll-out of care home support packages nationwide. Testing up until now had been given to over-65s and dementia patients only. The availability of testing has now expanded to all staff and residents. Care England has welcomed this step and says it will assist care homes “to identify who is COVID-19 positive and we will be able to support people appropriately.”
Minister for Care Helen Whately commented: “Opening up whole care home testing to the whole social care sector, regardless of symptoms, means we can prevent and control outbreaks and protect the most vulnerable.” An online portal has been set up to assure care homes have straightforward access to order tests. DHSC will also be contacting all care homes to encourage them to order tests. David Pearson CBE, former President of ADASS and the social care COVID-19 lead for the NHS, has been appointed independent Chair of the Social Care Sector COVID-19 support taskforce.