Large scale testing in care homes is vital to preventing and managing the spread of Covid-19.
People living in care homes are among the most vulnerable people in our communities. Many rely on close personal care. We want to ensure they are protected from the spread of Covid-19 as much as possible.
Asymptomatic testing of care home staff
As part of a package of measures for managing Covid-19 in care homes in Wales and protecting residents and staff, we introduced a programme of asymptomatic testing of staff on 15 June 2020. Taking account of the data and feedback from the care home sector, Local Health Boards, local authorities and trade unions, we have extended the programme until the end of December 2020 enabling statutory partners to determine whether staff in care homes in their local areas should be tested either weekly or fortnightly using their professional judgement informed by data on the incidence and transmission of Covid-19 in their local communities and local intelligence.
All asymptomatic testing of care home staff should now be undertaken through the UK Organisations Portal and the Lighthouse laboratories. Care homes can order test kits via the online portal for care homes on GOV.UK.
The policy to re-test individuals who receive a positive result through asymptomatic testing will remain a Welsh Government decision.
Other testing policy for care homes
In addition to the asymptomatic testing of staff, other testing is carried out in care homes to contain the spread of Covid-19, including:
- If there is an outbreak in a care home, we can deploy our mobile testing units to test all residents and staff. Larger care homes, with more than 50 beds, are at increased risks of an outbreak because of their size.
- Testing all individuals being discharged from hospital to live in care homes.
- Testing all people who are being transferred between care homes.
- Testing new admissions into care homes from the community.
- Testing all residents and staff of care homes that have cases of Covid-19 among their residents or staff.
Testing in care homes is important to prevent and manage outbreaks. But, testing alone is not enough to reduce Covid-19 infection rates. Testing only works in combination with other infection control measures. Our approach to protect our care home residents and staff is for testing to be accompanied by environmental and hygiene support such as PPE and hand hygiene.
We assist care homes to rapidly and effectively deal with infection from Covid-19 through the following measures:
- We are supporting care homes in delivering increased cleaning and infection control measures.
- When we identify infection hotspots, we work with care homes to minimise transmission rates. This involves testing people as well as implementing stringent infection control measures.