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Next steps for COVID-19 measures in the care sector

Our care sector experts explain what the government's new COVID-19 testing rules mean for those working in care homes and supported living services.

The media has focused on the end of free Coronavirus testing on 1 April 2022. The Government unveiled its plans for the future of COVID-19 testing which clearly has implications for the care sector, in guidance published on 29 March 2022.

Symptomatic testing

It has been confirmed that free COVID-19 tests will continue for those who ‘live or work in high risk settings’ and are displaying symptoms. Adult social care services fall within this definition, meaning that staff and residents of care homes and supported living services are eligible for free testing, if they are symptomatic. These tests should be made available through the organisation’s established ordering portal. Staff and patients of hospices will also benefit from free symptomatic testing, and will be provided tests directly by the hospice.

Asymptomatic testing

Free asymptomatic lateral flow testing will be restricted to high-risk settings where the risk of outbreak is particularly high. Staff in adult social care services such as care homes, hospices and homecare organisations will benefit from this, together with a small number of care home visitors who provide personal care to patients.

In the event of an outbreak at a care home, tests will be provided for residents and staff free of charge.

Visitor requirements

Most visitors to care homes will no longer be required to test before entry. Visitors who are displaying symptoms however, should only be allowed to enter in exceptional circumstances, such as an end of life visit.

Ongoing infection prevention and control measures

New guidance published by the Government in relation to infection control, confirms that:

  1. Those working in adult social care will continue to receive free PPE.
  2. Priority vaccinations and boosters for care home residents and staff will continue.
  3. The outbreak management period has been reduced from 14 days to 10 days. This includes visiting restrictions.
  4. Residents of care homes are now eligible to receive their Spring booster jab. Initial NHS reports indicate that over 600,000 people have already been offered this booster.

Supplemental advice on infection control for adult social care providers has been published, and applies from the 4 April 2022. Read the detailed guidance.

For further guidance or support, speak to one of the authors of this article using the details above or contact our care home solicitors.

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