Staff and residents in care homes, extra care and supported living services will continue to have free access to symptomatic COVID-19 testing after 1st April

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

UPDATE: 1st April 2022

Staff and residents in care homes, extra care and supported living services will continue to have free access to symptomatic COVID-19 testing after 1st April and staff will also have access to free asymptomatic testing twice weekly, 3-4 days apart. Visitors to adult social care settings (unless they are providing personal care to a resident) will no longer be required to take a test.

The Government made this announcement as they outlined their next steps of living with COVID that will come into effect from Friday – 1st April 2022.

Under the latest plans:

Free symptomatic testing will be provided for:

  • People living or working in some high-risk settings. This includes:
    • Staff in adult social care services such as homecare organisations and care homes
    • Residents in care homes and extra care and supported living services
    • NHS workers
    • People working and living in hospices
    • Prisons and places of detention (including immigration removal centres), where infection needs to be identified quickly to minimise outbreaks.
  • People being discharged from hospital into care homes, hospices.
  • Patients in hospital, where a PCR test is required for their care and to provide access to treatments and to support ongoing clinical surveillance for new variants;
  • People who are eligible for community COVID-19 treatments because they are at higher risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19. People in this group will be contacted directly and sent lateral flow tests to keep at home for use if they have symptoms as well as being told how to reorder tests;

Asymptomatic lateral flow testing will continue from April in some high-risk settings where infection can spread rapidly while prevalence is high.

This includes:

  • staff in hospices and adult social care services, such as homecare organisations and care homes
  • a small number of care home visitors who provide personal care
  • staff in some prisons and places of detention and in high risk domestic abuse refuges and homelessness settings.
  • patient-facing staff in the NHS and NHS-commissioned Independent Healthcare Providers

In addition, testing will be provided for residential SEND, care home staff and residents during an outbreak and for care home residents upon admission. This also includes some staff in prisons and immigration removal centres.

The latest guidance for COVID-19 testing in adult social care can be found here.

Most visitors to adult social care settings (unless providing personal care to a resident) and visitors to the NHS, prisons or places of detention will no longer be required to take a test.

A number of changes and new guidance for Adult Social Care have also been announced including:

  • From 1 April, those working in adult social care services will also continue to receive free personal protective equipment (PPE). Priority vaccinations and boosters for residents and staff will also continue.
  • Designated settings will be removed. These were initially set up to provide a period of isolation to COVID-19 positive patients before they move into care homes and before routine point of care testing for COVID-19 was available.
  • Restrictions on staff movement within adult social care residential settings will be removed
  • Outbreak management periods in care homes, which can include visiting restrictions, have been reduced from 14 to 10 days
  • People aged 75 and over, residents in care homes for elderly adults and those who are immunosuppressed are now eligible to receive a Spring booster jab to top up their immunity to COVID-19. Around five million people will be eligible for a Spring booster around six months after their previous dose, and the NHS has contacted over 600,000 people inviting them to book an appointment. Anyone who has not yet had a COVID-19 jab continues to be encouraged to take up the ‘evergreen’ offer.
  • Updated hospital discharge guidance will be published setting out how all involved in health and social care will work together to ensure smooth discharges from hospital and people receive the right care at the right time in the right place
  • Updated guidance on infection and prevention control measures have been published to set out long-standing principles on good practice, and support consistency across the adult social care sector. This will include details on future measures for COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses to ensure providers have the latest information on best practice which will include information on admissions, visiting and PPE.
  • Updated guidance for adult social care providers and staff to set out the current testing regime across adult social care.

The government have also released this handy Summary of changes to COVID-19 guidance for adult social care providers which highlights where guidance about COVID-19 for adult social care providers has been changed.

Other announcements also made last night include:

  • Community Infection Survey delivered through the Office for National Statistics will continue to provide a detailed national surveillance capability in the coming year so the government can respond appropriately to emerging developments such as a new variant of concern or changing levels of population infection.
  • Infections in health and care settings will also be monitored through bespoke studies including the Vivaldi study in residential care homes, the SIREN study in the NHS, and RCGP surveillance in primary care.
  • The government has retained the ability to enable a rapid testing response should it be needed, such as the emergence of a new variant of concern.This includes a stockpile of lateral flow tests and the ability to ramp up testing laboratories and delivery channels.
  • The government’s Therapeutics Taskforce and Antiviral Taskforce will also be merged into a single unit which will continue to focus on securing access to the most promising treatments for COVID-19.

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Sajid Javid said:

“Thanks to our plan to tackle Covid we are leading the way in learning to live with the virus. We have made enormous progress but will keep the ability to respond to future threats including potential variants.”

“Vaccines remain our best defence and we are now offering spring boosters to the elderly, care home residents and the most vulnerable – please come forward to protect yourself, your family, and your community.”