This page contains the latest known information and advice for adult care providers in Somerset.

Information about COVID-19 is rapidly changing, as is the advice and support available.  Please return to this page regularly.

Current coronavirus restrictions and Local Outbreak Management Plan Dashboard:

Restrictions:  Read Coronavirus: how to stay safe and help prevent the spread (Cabinet Office, updated 15/10/2021)

Dashboard:  View the Somerset COVID-19 Local Outbreak Management Plan Dashboard

Latest Stakeholder Summary: Somerset Covid-19 Weekly Update 22 October

Somerset Coronavirus Support Helpline

The Somerset Corona Virus Support Helpline – 0300 790 6275 is open between 8am – 6pm seven days a week including bank holidays. This single helpline across the districts and county will offer support with: Personal Care and support including food and prescriptions, Transport, Housing, Waste, Financial, as well as emotional well being for those who are worried or anxious. 

Reporting cases of COVID-19 in care settings
If you suspect or have a coronavirus outbreak in a care setting (one or more resident/s or staff affected), contact Public Health England via 0300 303 8162 (option 9 for a Covid call).

All cases involving more than one person, or any residents, must also be reported to swhpt@phe.gov.uk immediately and the team kept informed of any escalations.

Contact Us
If you have a COVID-19 concern or query affecting your service, or are not receiving email briefings, please contact our Incident Room via ASCCOVID19@somerset.gov.ukYou can also phone us on 07790 577338.


Please note – Providers should continue to use Somerset Direct for individual cases / individual escalations that do not relate to COVID-19.

Webinars:

Guidance on the Coronavirus is changing on a very frequent basis to reflect the latest advice and developing situation.

All Government updates can be found here:

Further information of particular interest and relevance to adult social care providers is listed here:

Public Health England Resources

  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Centre This is a repository of resources and communications toolkits coving all areas of the response to COVID-19, including infection prevention and control and vaccinations produced by Public Health England that is regularly updated, including some in partnership with other organisations including Carers UK, Rethink, the Stroke association and Mencap.
  • COVID-19 Resource Pack.  This will download a zip file that contains posters, letter templates and other resources produced by Public Health England

Staff Vaccinations

Please remember that the vaccine is designed to prevent serious illness and death from Covid-19.  However, even if you have had the vaccine, you can still catch it and might still be able to pass it on, so the hands, face, space guidance must still be followed to protect yourselves and others.

Social care workforce vaccinations

We are very pleased to say that the vast majority of social care workforce vaccinations are now complete, and want to say a huge thanks to you all for making this possible. 

In order to pick up the remaining staff who have yet to be vaccinated these can be booked via the National Booking Service.  Staff can self present once they have completed the request form at the link below.  We would ask that staff allow at least 24hrs between submitting the request and attending the two sites.  They will also need to provide ID which will be checked against the report that we will provide to the site on a daily basis.

Further information about booking a vaccination

NHS Somerset CCG is also been providing walk in vaccination clinics at different venues throughout the County, please visit their website for details of dates and times. 

If you have any questions or issues regarding vaccination please contact us at ASCCovid19@somerset.gov.uk and we will do all we can to support you.

Vaccination for pregnant women

We are very aware that a number of care staff have declined vaccination on the basis of concerns around pregnancy, England’s top midwife is urging expectant mums to get the COVID-19 vaccine after new data shows the overwhelming majority of pregnant women hospitalised with the virus have not had a jab.

Any pregnant women who have questions or concerns about the vaccine can speak to their GP, midwife or obstetrician to get more information and advice. Even if they have previously declined the vaccine, they can book an appointment to get their jab on the NHS National Booking Service website or call 119 between 7am and 11pm

Help with getting to vaccination appointments

If you have not yet had your vaccination, it might be worth preparing in advance how you will get there. If you are not able to drive yourself, but you have a family member or friend who might be able to support you – it’s always worth having that conversation now.

Somerset County Council is working with bus operators and community transport providers to help vulnerable residents to get to their COVID-19 vaccination appointments.

  • Current concessionary bus pass rules have been suspended so that bus passes can be used on all public services before 9.30am. This came into effect from February 1.
  • Somerset County Council is working with Community Transport and Slinky Demand Responsive Services across Somerset to allow free travel for bus pass holders when attending vaccination appointments. You can find information and contact details for Community Transport Services on Travel Somerset

If you are concerned about getting to an appointment, or need other help or support during the pandemic, please phone the Coronavirus helpline on 0300 790 6275. Lines are open from 8am to 6pm, seven days a week.

Vaccination Buddy programme now live

In your day to day work you may come into contact with people who have questions and concerns about the Covid-19 vaccination.  Public Heath Somerset has launched a Vaccine Buddy programme in partnership with Spark Somerset.  This programme provides a trained a team of volunteer Vaccination Buddies who can offer 1-2-1 telephone support to people who are worried or unsure about having the vaccine.

The Buddies come from all walks of life and have the right skills to support people to make informed decisions about having the Covid-19 vaccination.

Individuals can be referred (or self-refer) to the scheme and a fully trained Vaccination Buddy will then contact them by phone to discuss their concerns and offer information and reassurance.

Please share or complete this form to make a referral.  If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Helen.Fielden@sparksomerset.org.uk at Spark Somerset.

Further information:

  • Public Health Somerset has produced a ‘myth-buster’ sheet about some of the vaccine myths that we are aware of for you to share with your staff.
  • Please don’t contact your GP surgery to ask about vaccinations, they will contact you, unnecessary calls are jamming GP switchboards and as such are stopping people who need urgent appointments from getting through.
  • You cannot choose which vaccine you want, they are very safe and very effective.
  • The previous advice that anyone who carries an EpiPen or has a significant history of an anaphylactic-type reaction should not receive a vaccination has now been updated and now only contraindicates based on a specific allergy to one of the ingredients contained within the vaccine (see below).  This new guidance has been developed following the vaccinations carried out in the UK so far and the ever growing evidence base this generates.
    •  
    •  

Mandatory vaccinations – guidance and resources

General information about COVID-19 vaccines

Leaflets:

Videos:

Vaccination Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Please click to expand to view the FAQs

Q: Can I have it if I’m vegan?
A:  Pfizer BioNTech vaccine is total synthetic – no animal products are included in the excipients or in the production (e.g. chicken eggs).  No cell line (human or animal) have been used in the development or production so is believed to be suitable for anyone with ethical (e.g. vegetarian, vegan, animal rights or pro-life) or religious concerns regarding some components or methods of production of some medicines.

Q:  I’m allergic to prawns / shellfish and last time I had the tiniest bit was quite ill but I have never been issued with an epi-pen. Can I have it still or is it too risky
A:  The exclusion is ‘severe allergic reaction’ by which we mean one severe enough to cause a hospital admission or need you to carry an EpiPen.  However, prescribers or vaccination centres have varying levels of caution regarding allergies (i.e. some centres may not administer the vaccine to people with less severe allergies) until we understand more about who and why a very people have had such a dramatic reaction to the vaccine – whether you can get a vaccine will depend on the individual clinical assessment of your particular allergy and it’s triggers by the healthcare professional prescribing or administering the vaccine .  The vaccine has been administered to EpiPen carriers without incident before the severe allergic reactions became apparent in the first few days of the vaccination programme.  It is hoped that as we get a better understanding of who and why a few people might react badly to the vaccine we will be able to be more specific about the allergies (and how severe they are) that stop people having the Pfizer BioNTech ‘Courageous®’ vaccine for their own safety: this could also mean that some EpiPen carriers who we’d currently advise shouldn’t have it may be able to have the Pfizer vaccine in the future.

Q:  Can I wait for the Oxford vaccine?
A:  At this time the Pfizer vaccine is the only approved vaccine, it is not known when or if any other vaccine will be provided.  Earlier vaccination saves lives.

Q:  What format does going to have the vaccination take i.e. queuing in small rooms with others?
A:  Social distanced at all times, you will be received details checked, a pre-screening check will be conducted prior to vaccination.  A short period of observation (15 minutes) will be conducted after the vaccination.  All staff involved will be wearing full PPE and you will be required to wear a face mask or visor covering your mouth and nose.

Q:  What forms or questions will I be asked?
A:  Confirmation of personal details, some brief conversations regarding past medical history.

Q:  Will I have to take evidence of my NHS number with me even though Linden House will have provided it?
A:  If you have your NHS number that would be helpful, but it can be looked up on the day.  You may be asked to take ID to confirm who you are.

Q:  Will I be given the appointment for the second jab after I have had my first and before I leave the vaccine centre?
A:  Your second appointment will be confirmed 21 days after the first vaccination, at some vaccination centres this will be sent to you after the vaccination. Other vaccination centres are booking the date and time of the second vaccination at the centre at the time of your first vaccination.

Q:  Will I be sent a reminder for the second jab?
A:  You will be given a card with the date and time of you appointment slot.

Q:  Will I have to wait for a while after I have had the vaccine before I can leave?
A:  A short period of observation – 15mins – will be required.

Q:  Can I choose to go with someone I know as I don’t like needles?
A:  You will need to attend as an individual, but please ensure the vaccination team are aware of the phobia you have for needles.

Q:  What happens if I can’t drive or don’t have access to a car?
A:  All Primary Care Centre clinics are in the local areas, so that the need to drive or take public transport is kept to a minimum. There are also some plans in development for Covid-19 vaccination to be provided at community pharmacies so this might be an option at some stage in the future but isn’t available yet.

Q:  Am I only given one chance to have the jab?
A:  Additional opportunities may be provided, but this can’t be guaranteed.

Q:  My employer is asking for my NHS number but I am not prepared to provide it. I am happy to take it with me when I am vaccinated. Is that ok?
A:  Yes

Q:  How is the government going to ensure that everyone who wants a vaccine has had one? is there going to be one enormous database to ensure nobody is missed and if so, will this be able to be accessed by GPs, hospitals etc.
A:  This is a very complex process and as such there is some responsibility for individuals to identify themselves.  GP records will be used to identify all at risk individuals.

Q:  Will I get a Covid-19 passport / evidence that I have had the vaccine?
A:  No.

You should continue to follow guidance on shielding and protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable (Public Health England and Department of Health and Social Care, updated 28/09/2021) already in place and if you have any concerns or queries please contact us via ASCCOVID19@somerset.gov.uk.

Further Information:

Coronavirus (COVID-19) risk assessment (QCovid®) (NHS Digital, 25/03/2021)

From 19/07/2021 all legal restrictions were removed the number of people who can gather both inside and outside.  However, all organisations still have a legal duty to manage risk as outlined in Coronavirus: how to stay safe and help prevent the spread (Cabinet Office, 15/10/2021)

Should you require any further advice regarding the steps you should be taking to reduce the transmission risk, please email us at ASCCovid19@somerset.gov.uk.

The Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) has published guidance (updated 24/09/2021) commissioned by the Department for Health and Social Care to support day services for vulnerable adults to operate in a safe manner, however it is yet to be updated to reflect the changes that came into effect on 19/07/2021. Somerset County Council asks that all day service providers follow the sections of this guidance that have not been superseded by the changes on 19/07/2021, drawing attention to the request for transparency with service users, families, the Local Authority and other providers regarding risk assessments both business wide and for individuals. 

  • Webinar with Mel Lock on 14/10/21

In this webinar Mel Lock (Somerset County Council’s Director of Adult Social Care) was joined by Tim Baverstock (Assistant Director of Adult Social Care), Dave Partlow (Strategic Manager) and Liz Green (Public Health).  The agenda included:

– Update from public health on the latest covid position

– Latest on Proud to Care Somerset campaign

– Launch of new Provider Engagement website

– Update on Government social care reform activity

View the webinar

  • Webinar with Mel Lock on 23/08/2021

    In this webinar Mel Lock (Somerset County Council’s Director of Adult Social Care) was joined by Tim Baverstock (Assistant Director of Adult Social Care) and Alison Bell (Consultant in Public Health). The agenda included:

    – Dashboard
    – Update on self isolation
    – New care home visiting
    – Refresher on testing

    View the webinar
Please click to expand to view previous webinars
  • Webinar with Mel Lock on 22/07/2021

In this webinar Mel Lock (Somerset County Council’s Director of Adult Social Care) was joined by Niki Shaw (Strategic Manager: Quality & Performance ), Dave Partlow (Strategic Manager: Acutes, Safeguarding and Partnerships) and  Liz Green (Health Protection Practitioner, Public Heath Somerset).  The agenda included:

    • Welcome
    • Feedback & Next Steps: Somerset Care Provider Survey (June 2021) – Niki Shaw
    • Question & Answers – this was an opportunity for providers to raise any questions they had for Adult Social Care and Public Health colleagues
    • Any other business
  • Webinar with Mel Lock on 24/05/2021

In this webinar Mel Lock (Somerset County Council’s Director of Adult Social Care) was joined by Alison Bell (Consultant in Public Health), and Dave Partlow (Strategic Manager, Adult Social Care COVID19 Response Team). The agenda included:

    • Capacity Tracker
    • Second dose vaccinations
    • The need to ensure PPE and other guidance remains in place
    • An update from Public Health Somerset
    • An update on grants
    • Any other business
  • Webinar with Mel Lock on 20/04/2021

In this webinar Mel Lock (Somerset County Council’s Director of Adult Social Care) was joined by Alison Bell (Consultant in Public Health), and Dave Partlow (Strategic Manager, Adult Social Care COVID19 Response Team), The agenda included:

    • Testing
    • Vaccination stats and consultation
    • PPE usage and guidance
    • Grant funding and Capacity Tracker
    • Preparation for reopening of community services/respite
    • Any other business
  • Webinar with Mel Lock on 26/03/2021

In this webinar Mel Lock (Somerset County Council’s Director of Adult Social Care) was joined by Alison Bell (Consultant in Public Health), and Dave Partlow (Strategic Manager, Adult Social Care COVID19 Response Team), The agenda included:

    • Current situation, and need to remain vigilant
    • Testing in outbreaks
    • Vaccination update
    • Visiting in care settings
    • Funding
    • World Autism Awareness Week
    • Any other business
  • Webinar with Mel Lock on 24/02/2021

In this webinar Mel Lock (Somerset County Council’s Director of Adult Social Care) was joined by Councillor David Fothergill (Leader of Somerset County Council), Tim Baverstock (Assistant Director of Adult Social Care), Alison Bell (Consultant in Public Health), Liz Green (Health Protection Practitioner) and Dave Partlow (Strategic Manager, Adult Social Care COVID19 Response Team), The agenda included:

    • Thank you from Cllr David Fothergill
    • Infection prevention and control – ventilation, cleaning etc.
    • Covid-positive discharges
    • Care home visiting guidance
    • Workforce capacity fund
    • Vaccinations
    • Flagging different vaccine brands
    • EU settlement
    • Any other business
  • Webinar with Mel Lock on 28/01/2021

In this webinar Mel Lock (Somerset County Council’s Director of Adult Social Care) was joined by Tim Baverstock (Assistant Director of Adult Social Care), Alison Bell (Consultant in Public Health), Dave Partlow (Strategic Manager, Adult Social Care COVID19 Response Team) to give an update from Public Health, and on outbreak management (planning for an outbreak, learning from recent experiences), Lateral Flow  Device Tests (LFTs, ) and testing, vaccinations, grant funding – Infection Control Grant 2 (ICF2) and testing funding support, proud to Care Somerset case study request and the Millbrook equipment return campaign and self-assessment portal.

  • Webinar with Mel Lock on 18/12/2020

In this webinar Mel Lock (Somerset County Council’s Director of Adult Social Care) was joined by Tim Baverstock (Assistant Director of Adult Social Care), Alison Bell (Consultant in Public Health), Dave Partlow (Strategic Manager, Adult Social Care COVID19 Response Team) to give an update from Public Health  and on vaccinations, Lateral Flow Device Tests (LFTs), Care Home Visits, Business Continuity and out break planning, finance and grants and Christmas messages including #ConnectACareHome

  • Webinar with Mel Lock on 16/11/2020

In this webinar Mel Lock (Somerset County Council’s Director of Adult Social Care) was joined by Tim Baverstock (Assistant Director of Adult Social Care), Alison Bell (Consultant in Public Health), Dave Partlow (Strategic Manager, Adult Social Care COVID19 Response Team), Jo Howarth (NHS England and NHS Improvement) and Conner Dicks (NHS England and NHS Improvement) to give an update on the Covid-19 Vaccination programme, care home visits, the current public health position in Somerset and IPC Grant monies.

  • Webinar with Mel Lock on 25/09/2020

In this webinar Mel Lock (Somerset County Council’s Director of Adult Social Care) was joined by Tim Baverstock (Assistant Director of Adult Social Care), Alison Bell (Consultant in Public Health) and Dave Partlow (Strategic Manager, Adult Social Care COVID19 Response Team) to give an update on testing, the Adult Social Care Winter Plan that was published on 18/09/2020 and PPE.

  • Webinar with Mel Lock on 01/07/2020

In this webinar Mel Lock (Somerset County Council’s Director of Adult Social Care) was joined by Tim Baverstock (Assistant Director of Adult Social Care) and Dave Partlow (Strategic Manager, Adult Social Care COVID19 Response Team) to give an update on how we have progressed with exploring ways to help providers source PPE and use the bulk buying power of the council to do this at a favourable cost, and explained how providers will be able to purchase PPE going forward.

  • Webinar with Mel Lock on 16/06/2020

In this webinar Mel Lock (Somerset County Council’s Director of Adult Social Care) was joined by Tim Baverstock (Assistant Director of Adult Social Care) to discuss the remaining 25% of Infection Control Grant monies. This webinar was primarily for:

    • Domiciliary care providers
    • LD supported living providers
    • Extra Care housing providers
  • Webinar with Mel Lock on 05/06/2020

In this webinar Mel Lock (Somerset County Council’s Director of Adult Social Care) was joined by Tim Baverstock (Assistant Director of Adult Social Care) to discuss grant funding.  Alison Bell (Strategic Manager for Public Health) will also be joining to provide an update of Care Home Testing, and Dave Partlow (Strategic Manager for Adult Social Care) will provide an update on PPE.

    • View the webinar 
    • View Alison Bell’s presentation
    • Responses to questions that were followed-up after the webinar had finished:
      • Q:  Could we use the funding for staff who are shielding.  It states that staff who self-isolate can be claimed but does that cover shielding staff wages also?
        • A:  Shielding staff members can be allocated to the staff cost under the category of isolation and protection of staff and residents from infection/vulnerability – the Director of ASC has agreed this can be signed off against the grant determination.
      • Q:  Can you confirm when the Infection Control Grant Applies from
        • A:  Start date is on signing and return of the grant agreement and the condition states that it cannot be used for expenditure already incurred.
      • Q:  With regards to the grant, is there any further guidance regarding specifics of what you can/can’t spent the grant on?  e.g. Is capital expenditure allowed?  For example with regards to transport for staff.
        • A:  Capital spend is not excluded (provided it meets one of the categories). Please check if you are unsure.
    • The Department of Health and Social Care have also released an Infection Control Fund Question and Answer document 

The Government has published the following guidance in relation to patient pathways from hospitals to Adult Social Care settings:

Visits in to care homes

Welcoming people into care homes from the community inevitably brings infection risk, but this is a risk that care homes can mitigate with appropriate control measures, tailored to each individual site. It is a risk that should always be balanced against the importance of visiting and the benefits it brings to care home residents and their families. 

Visiting should be supported and enabled wherever it is possible to do so safely, in line with government guidance and within a care home environment that takes proportionate steps to manage risks.  All visitors also have an important role to play – helping to keep their loved ones safe by carefully following the policies described in government guidance, and the practical arrangements that care homes put in place, such as internal risk assessment and infection prevention and control protocols.

In the event of an outbreak in a care home, the home should immediately stop visiting (except in exceptional circumstances such as end of life – and for essential care givers) to protect vulnerable residents, staff and visitors.

Each care home is unique in its physical environment and facilities, and the needs and wishes of their residents. As such, care home managers are best placed to develop their own policies (in consultation with residents and their relatives) to ensure that the visits described in government guidance below are provided in the best way for individual residents, their loved ones, and care home staff.

If the provider or manager has any queries regarding visiting, a range of additional support is available. Providers may wish to seek advice from their local Director of Public Health (DPH) or Director of Adult Social Services (DASS), both of whom have an important role to play in supporting visiting, and in supporting the care home to deliver the visits described in this guidance. Additionally, care homes may wish to make use of the resources provided by Care England and Partners in Care, a coalition of providers, relatives and residents organisations facilitated by the National Care Forum.

National Guidance:

Visits out of care homes

The national guidance on visits out of care homes (Department of Health and Social Care, 23/08/2021) has been updated to include changes that came in to effect from 19/07/2021.  

Visits in and out of supported living settings

The COVID-19: guidance for supported living (Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England, updated 17/08/2021) has been updated to include guidance on visits in and out of supported living settings.  This guidance is intended for supported living settings, but many of the principles are applicable to extra care housing for older people. It may also be a useful resource for the wider supported housing sector, such as retirement or sheltered housing.

Partners in Care resources

To support the easing of restrictions on care home visits, the National Care Forum has led the creation of a set of resources called Partners in Care. They’ve been produced in collaboration with Rights for Residents, Relatives and Residents, John’s Campaign and Age UK and backed by many others in the sector.

These resources can be used and adapted by care homes. They include a visiting charter setting out shared rights and responsibilities and a visiting pledge, covering commitments all parties can sign up to.

Some care home residents have received a letter advising them they have been added to the shielded patients list (because they are clinically extremely vulnerable). The Department of Health and Social Care has made an addition to the guidance to make clear being on the list does not prevent care home residents from receiving visitors in the same way as others

Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

National Guidance

PPE Resources:

National Guidance 

The NHS has set up a supply distribution helpline which can answer PPE calls and emails 24/7:

Phone: 0800 915 9964
Email supplydisruptionservice@nhsbsa.nhs.uk

PPE Portal:

  • The DHSC has launched a guidance page on the PPE Portal, to help provide information to those invited to register and order emergency PPE through the site.
  • Please find the page at this address:  https://www.gov.uk/guidance/ppe-portal-how-to-order-emergency-personal-protective-equipment (Department of Health and Social Care, updated 18/05/2021)
  • The customer service team can be contacted on on 0800 876 6802 if you have any questions about using the PPE portal
  • The page details who is eligible to register with the portal, how the order process works and what customers should expect from the portal.
  • Please ensure that all eligible providers regularly check their email accounts registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) / Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in order to ensure that the email invitation is received and actioned.

Local process

While we appreciate that many providers are now procuring PPE via the PPE Portal, the Local Authority is still available to support providers with any PPE shortfalls, however this will be on a chargeable basis.  Please contact ASCCOVID19@somerset.gov.uk should you wish to purchase PPE through the Local Authority. 

The main symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

Most people with coronavirus have at least one of these symptoms.

Further information

General information

A summary has been produced of Coronavirus (COVID-19) tests available for adult social care in England (UK Government and NHS Test and Trace, updated July 2021) that details the different requirements for each type of service.  This is part of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) testing for adult social care settings pack of guidance (Department of Health and Social Care, updated 13/10/2021).

Please see below for more specific information on testing within different service types.

National Information on getting tested for COVID-19

Everyone in England who is not currently displaying symptoms of COVID-19 infection, can now access free lateral flow tests to enable them to test twice weekly.

There are several routes available to receive twice weekly testing:

Local Information on getting tested

New Lateral Flow Test Kit Brand

Please be aware that, from 09/08/2021, a new brand of lateral flow tests will be in circulation. The brand is called Acon (Flowflex) and still comes in packs of 7 tests, and still needs to be performed twice a week. However, this new kit requires nasal swabbing only. The test kit components do not differ too much from the current Innova kits, apart from the extraction tube already being pre-filled with the buffer solution. This new Acon Flowflex test only takes 15 minutes for a final result rather than 30 minutes with the current ones. 

Labelling of tests for staff

We have received feedback that sometimes it can be unclear which setting a test relates to where the information completed only shows the care provider name rather than care setting.  Please could you there ensure that you complete as much detail as possible (setting name(s) and postcodes) as well as the name of care provider associated with it.  This will enable the location that the staff member is working at to be more quickly identified.

Additional step to the self-report registration

There has been an additional screen added to the user’s journey when you are registering a test result online. The user will now be prompted to input their occupation during registration.   Please note, this is an optional screen and therefore if you do not wish to disclose your occupation, you do not need to do so.

Procedure on discovering leaking vials or buffer solution

We have been informed of a small number of test kits that contain leaking vials, or vials without the lid securely fastened. Should this be discovered, the affected kit should be discarded. Once any immediate safety concerns have been dealt with, take photos of the affected kits, including batch numbers and any other information from the kit and also the outside of the delivery box. Report the incident to 119 and request a replacement order if required.

Bulk upload spreadsheet for coronavirus tests

From 01/07/2021 all Adult Social Care settings, along with care homes will be able to use the bulk upload spreadsheet process for registration of test results.  Please see guidance and spreadsheet to record the details of up to 100 people who you’ve tested for coronavirus on that day (Department for Health and Social Care, updated 01/07/2021).

Care Homes (updated 17/08/2021)

Please click to expand to view information specific to care homes

Daily testing in the event of a positive test in a care home

Please be aware that current guidance states that, in the event of a positive test in a care home, all staff must be tested daily for at least 7 days

Guidance

The government has published Care Home COVID-19 Testing Guidance For testing of staff and residents (UK Government and NHS Test and Trace, updated Aug 2021), which includes guidance coving all aspects of care home testing for both Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) (page 10) and Lateral Flow Tests (LFT) tests (page 24), including outbreak testing procedures (page 35).

Additional guidance that is also available includes:

If your scheduled courier (booked at https://test-kit-collection.test-for-coronavirus.service.gov.uk/ – see below) does not arrive to collect your test kits please call the contact centre on 119. They will be able to book urgent replacement couriers for you, and will be able to escalate any other concerns that you may have.

Please note that all couriers should still be booked at https://test-kit-collection.test-for-coronavirus.service.gov.uk/, and 119 should only be called if one does not arrive as scheduled between 4pm and 10pm.

The whole home testing cycle is:

  • Staff testing: Weekly Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and twice weekly Lateral Flow Device Test (LFT) (one of the LFT on the same day as their PCR)
  • Resident testing: Every 28 days with PCR When test kits are sent these are enough for four weeks and you can re-order more kits 21 days after your last order was dispatched.

Any care home workers with symptoms should be self-isolating and can access testing via the self-referral portal or be referred by their employer in the usual way.

Actions and testing frequency after a positive result

  • If there is a positive case in the care home from either staff or residents with a PCR or LFT test, conduct rapid response LFT testing on staff daily and report to the Public Health England Health Protection Team 0300 303 8162 (including out of hours) they will provide public health advice, and arrange urgent testing of all symptomatic residents. 
  • If no further positives are found within 7 days or the confirmatory PCR test (for the initial positive LFT test) is negative
    • Stop daily LFT and return to the regular staff testing regime of weekly PCR testing and twice weekly LFT testing
  • If further positive cases are found, or the Public Health England Health Protection Team advises that it is required after the first positive tests (where it is unclear whether there is an outbreak, the Health Protection Team should err on the side of caution and recommend
    outbreak testing.):
    • PCR tests for all staff and residents on day 1 of the outbreak and once between
      days 4-7.
    • Start (or continue, depending on your circumstances) of daily LFT testing of all staff until there has not been a positive result in 5 days
    • When you carry out the outbreak PCR for residents (day 1 and once again between day 4-7), also test the resident with LFT on the same day
    • Any positive LFT tests from either staff or residents should be followed by a
      confirmatory PCR.
    • PCR test any newly symptomatic people.  Continue to isolate and ensure contract tracing has been completed.
  • Once outbreak PCR and resident LFT testing is complete, continue with the regular testing cycle. Daily staff testing may continue in this scenario until no new cases have been identified for 5 days.

If staff are on annual leave, they are not required to join the daily testing until they return to work.

If staff develop symptoms, they should be tested at a test centre or by ordering a kit to be sent direct to their home. They can do this at:

https://www.gov.uk/apply-coronavirus-test-essential-workers 

Testing within 90 days of a positive PCR test

Following a substantial clinical review of the latest evidence and testing data, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has changed the advice for retesting within 90 days of a positive. From now on, if someone tests positive with a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test, they should not be tested using PCR or Lateral Flow Device Tests (LFTs) for 90 days, unless they develop new symptoms during this time, in which case they should be retested immediately using PCR. This 90 day period is from the initial onset of symptoms or, if asymptomatic when tested, their positive test result.

The previous policy to continue LFT testing following a positive PCR result was because although very unlikely, it is possible to be re-infected within 90 days. However based on the latest testing data and clinical advice, the policy has now changed.

The clinical view is that during this 90 day window from a positive test, given the low rate of reinfection during this window, it is significantly more likely that a positive LFT test would be a false result, rather than someone being re-infected, causing people to isolate unnecessarily. Therefore we are now stopping the regular testing using LFT during this 90 day period. The individual should return to the regular LFT and PCR regime once 90 days has passed.

This means that the policy for retesting within 90 days for Adult Social Care is now the same as the policy for NHS staff. The policy also applies to professionals visiting a care home who have received a positive PCR result in the last 90 days.

The 90 day period is from the initial onset of symptoms or, if asymptomatic when tested,  their positive test result. Individuals should use evidence of their positive PCR test to show  they are currently exempt from asymptomatic testing

A set of Frequently Asked questions (FAQs) has be produced about this change.

Testing in a confirmed or suspected outbreak.

In line with Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) and Public Health England advice, the Department of Health and Social Care has introducing some changes to the testing procedures in the event of an outbreak.

In the event of a confirmed / suspected outbreak, you should immediately contact the local Health Protection Team (HPT) for advice using swhpt@phe.gov.uk.

An outbreak is defined as two or more confirmed or clinically suspected cases within 14 days – detected by either Lateral Flow Device Test (LFT) or Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing.  However, one positive test result may be the first sign of an outbreak, so you should also contact your health protection team for advice in this instance.

Please read the full Care Home COVID-19 Testing Guidance For testing of staff and residents (UK Government and NHS Test and Trace, updated August 2021) detailing the outbreak testing process and how you can best prepare your care home in the event of an outbreak. This guidance should be followed unless advised otherwise by the HPT. The outbreak testing section starts from page 35.

  • Rapid response LFT testing for staff was been extended from 22 February. This should no longer automatically stop after 7 days. Instead care homes should continue with rapid response testing until 5 days have elapsed since the date of the last positive LFT
    (confirmed with PCR). Staff should only be tested on the days they are due to attend work.
  • LFT testing for residents was introduced from 22 February. This should be undertaken at the same time as the PCR testing in an outbreak – on day 1 and on an additional day between days 4 and 7. The usual principles of consent and best interest decisions apply to inform your decision whether this is appropriate for each resident.
  • PCR outbreak testing has moved from Pillar 1 to Pillar 2. The policy for when to carry out the outbreak PCR remains the same. All staff and residents should be tested on day one and on an additional day between days 4 and 7.

Testing is only one part of the outbreak response. The local HPT will provide advice on how to manage the outbreak including the necessary Infection Prevention and Control measures such as cohorting, proper use of PPE, good hand hygiene and distancing.

Returning PCR tests in an outbreak

As you are already engaged in the National Coronavirus Testing Programme for staff / resident testing – you may already have couriers booked for the days that outbreak testing is taking place. If this is the case, you should return PCR tests through this regular channel – no additional return courier booking will be needed. Should this not be the case, you can arrange a courier for the next day on https://test-kit-collection.test-for-coronavirus.service.gov.uk/ and if required, you are able to call 119 to book a same day courier.

Please remember that no personally identifiable information should be included with the PCR test kit. All we need to process the test is the barcode on the test kit.

As a reminder, used LFT kits do not have to be sent to labs and should instead be disposed of in health care waste bins.

Determining end of outbreak testing
  • All staff and residents should be tested with PCR 14 days after the last resident or staff had a positive test result or showed coronavirus-like symptoms.
  • The local HPT will contact the care home if, following genomic sequencing of test results, they have identified a Variant of Concern at which point they will discuss whether additional measures need to be put in place to enable additional protection. This might include an extension to the period of an outbreak up to 28 days from the last positive test.
  • If there are no positive PCR results from this “end of outbreak testing”, the Health Protection Team will declare the outbreak over.
  • The regular resident testing cycle of 28 days can be delayed to coincide with this “end of outbreak testing” if the two test dates fall within a week of each other.

Ordering Test Kits

The Department of Health and Social Care has said that it will continue to send care homes more Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and Lateral Flow Device Test (LFT) test kits than necessary to carry out the recommended weekly testing for both staff and residents. This means you should have spare LFT and PCR kits that you can use in case of an outbreak.  It will also will continue to monitor kit levels as the current lockdown restrictions evolve to ensure you continue to have enough test kits to meet your testing needs.

If you are in an outbreak and do not have enough stock to last until your next routine order, you can place an additional order via 119. You should receive these kits within 48 hours.

If you are not in outbreak you can place an order via the ordering portal, gov.uk/coronavirus, in line with your normal 21-day reordering cycle. After 21 days, automatic emails will remind you that your home is eligible to place an order.  You should make sure to re-order before running low – you can reorder every 3 weeks.  Please note that you will need your organisations Unique Organisation Number (UON) in order to place an order.

Labelling of tests for staff

We have received feedback that sometimes it can be unclear which setting a test relates to where the information completed only shows the care provider name rather than care setting.  Please could you there ensure that you complete as much detail as possible (setting name(s) and postcodes) as well as the name of care provider associated with it.  This will enable the location that the staff member is working at to be more quickly identified.

Simplification of the registration journey

From Thursday 11th March the single registration journey has been be simplified. The DHSC has combined some screens to remove unnecessary steps, which will save you time and make the registration process easier. The updated screens are as follows:

  1. Personal details
  2. Where to send the results
  3. Address
  4. Work details
  5. Check answers submitted

Further to this, the DHSC have updated the mobile number entry option in the second screen; ‘Where to send the results’. You will now have the option to confirm your mobile number, ensuring that it is entered correctly and results are received safely.

Priority Post Boxes

If an individual tests positive with an LFT, they will need to take a confirmatory PCR test. Your home has been provided with additional PCR tests for this purpose, which come with Royal Mail return labels. You can affix these to the confirmatory PCR test kit and post them via your nearest priority post box. You can find your nearest priority post box at:

https://www.royalmail.com/priority-postboxes

Please make sure the label is affixed to the test kit box before posting.

If you cannot post the confirmatory PCR test kit for whatever reason, the care home manager can ring 119 to book a same day courier to collect the test kit from the care home – however, we would encourage you to post the test kit if at all possible to avoid needing a courier for only one test kit. The turnaround time for results for test kits returned via Royal Mail are in line with those returned via courier.

Your regular PCR staff and resident test kits still need to be returned via courier. We do not provide Royal Mail return labels for regular PCR tests and a test kit cannot be posted without a Royal Mail return label.

If you already have a courier booked for your regular PCR testing, and you complete a confirmatory PCR kit at the home on the same day, you can include the confirmatory PCR kit along with the regular PCR kits.

Additional option to order Universal PCR test kits that can be returned via Royal Mail priority post boxes

From 24/06/2021 onwards the DHSC  will be offering adult care homes the option to order PCR test kits that include a Royal Mail return label.

If you only have a small number of PCR tests to conduct (8 or less in any testing day), you can use these test kits and return them using the Royal Mail labels provided.

These tests will not replace the standard PCR test kits returned by courier. Courier collection will remain the primary route for returning most of your PCR test kits to the lab.

This is a completely optional addition, introduced to offer Care Homes flexibility and supplement your regular testing routine.

How to use this service
  • Visit the online order portal as usual and enter your Unique Organisation Number (UON) at: https://www.gov.uk/apply-coronavirus-test-care-home.
  • You will see an option to order – Swab tests (PCR tests) to return by priority post box
  • Each individual test kit comes with its own individual box and return label
  • Return test kits to the lab by posting in your closest Royal Mail priority post box

Wording of results

The testing programme no longer uses wording for ‘void’ or ‘inconclusive’ results. This has been replaced with the wording below:

We could not read your coronavirus test sample. This means it’s not possible to say if you had the virus when the test was done.
We’re sorry, but you’ll need to get another test as soon as possible.
Keep self-isolating (and stay off work if relevant) if:

  • You have or develop symptoms of coronavirus
  • Someone you live with has symptoms or tests positive
    You’ve been traced as a contact of someone who tested positive

Registering LFT test results

All lateral flow device tests must be registered (whether positive, indeterminate/void, or negative) as a legal requirement at:  https://www.gov.uk/report-covid19-result

Understanding results, and the prevalence rate is crucial for public health teams to understand the prevalence of coronavirus in care homes across the country and be able to support the care sector appropriately. It is therefore very important that care homes have made the necessary arrangements with staff self-testing at home to ensure that all results from lateral flow device tests are registered online, and the DHSC has informed us that it will be monitoring compliance.

Registration should be done within 24hrs to ensure that results can assist NHS Test and Trace in understanding transmission and prevalence.

Please note that LFT tests should not be returned with a courier under any circumstances – returning LFT tests can affect the safety of laboratory staff and result in a temporary closure of the lab. Used LFT tests must be disposed of in your healthcare waste.

User account function for LFT registration

Please follow the guidance on page 16 of the your step-by-step guide for COVID-19 self-testing: Lateral Flow Device Test Kits self-test guidance (UK Government and NHS Test and Trace, updated 22/04/2021) to set your account up.

Please note you will need to enter all your personal details when creating the account. You will be required to input an email address and phone number, as part of the account creation and verification process, so please make sure you have access to an email address and phone.

Once you have created your account, the amount of time taken to register your LFT result will decrease significantly, as your personal details will be saved.   If you do not want to create an account, the single registration process will still available.

Changes to the online registration portal which took effect from 25th February

Test kits with barcodes prefixed with SAT can only be registered up until 24th February 2021. After this date these test kits cannot be used and registered.

Organisations are asked to check their stock of test kits as barcodes with the prefix SAT will not be accepted after 24th February 2021

Organisations that only have test kits with the prefix SAT should please order more test kits via the link below:

https://request-testing.test-for-coronavirus.service.gov.uk/

Testing training

Whole home testing webinar

The Department of Health and Social Care has set up regular care home testing webinars. The webinars will last 90mins and give detailed information about all aspects of care home testing, including: registering to receive tests, preparing for testing, test kit delivery, the testing process itself, testing certain care groups, registering test kits, booking your collection, and results and what they mean for you home

The session will include a Q&A with representatives from the national care home testing team, who will be able to answer your questions and address any concerns in the session.

Use this link to sign up to attend the webinars.  If you are not able to attend the webinars please sign up and a recording of the session will be made available to you after the session

The government has published a set of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that have been asked at webinars.

LFT Testing Training

All care home staff members that are using LFT tests must have completed the training on the NHS Test and Trace online training portal. The training videos last about 15 minutes followed by a competency assessment.

Link: https://go.tessello.co.uk/TestDeviceTraining/

Token: 3wkcVi4UTX

Any care home staff member who has not yet completed the training can use the above link to create an account, access the training videos, and complete the competency assessment. Once the training is complete, screengrabs of the competency assessment can be sent to the care home manager to be stored for internal records.

Please note, the registration process on the training portal is different to the one described above. You must follow the registration process highlighted in the section above (please see pages 16 to 19 in the self-test guidance for further detail on the registration process).

It is critical that your care home staff member does not begin LFT testing until they have completed the assessment.

Can I share test kits with another provider, friends or family

  • Test kits for a setting must not be shared with anyone outside of the setting
  • Sharing test kits may lead to issues with test kit registration, courier collection and also contact tracing
  • If you have any spare test kits, they should be stored between 5 and 22 degrees Celsius until their expiry date, which is displayed on the swabs
  • Anyone that is symptomatic can get a test here: https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test

Safety notice: Checking the barcodes on your test kits

The Department of Health and social Care have informed us that  they have received a small number of reports that the four barcodes in some test kits have not matched.

It is critical that all barcodes in each test kit match, so that registration data and results are correctly associated with the right person.

When using your test kits, please check that all four barcodes (found on the vial, the bag, the box and the loose barcode for your records) are identical.

If they do not match, please do not use the test kit and contact the Test and Trace contact centre on 119 to inform them of the issue and request replacement kits.

Domiciliary Care Services (updated 23/04/2021)

Please click to expand to view information specific to domiciliary care services

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has updated its guidance a testing service for homecare workers in England (Department of Health and Social Care, updated 14/05/2021)

About the service

The service involves:

  • weekly testing of all homecare workers in adult social care using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test kits. This includes all carers in domiciliary care organisations
  • agency managers should order tests every 28 days for their homecare workers
  • 4 tests are delivered for each homecare worker to the agency, for a 28-day testing cycle
  • each homecare worker should be given 4 test kits every 28 days
  • every 7 days a care worker should take a test, register it online, and return it by post between Thursday and Sunday
  • homecare workers will receive their results in 2 to 4 days by email and text message (SMS)

Why testing is important

Testing:

  • identifies homecare workers who currently have COVID-19 so they are able to self-isolate if positive
  • protects those receiving care from infection passed to them by homecare workers who are confirmed positive
  • prevents and controls the spread of the virus by identifying asymptomatic cases

Eligible organisations

Your organisation is eligible if you are a Care Quality Commission (CQC)-regulated homecare organisation in England providing personal care.

This is defined in the CQC data as locations with the primary inspection category ‘Community based adult social care services’ and providing the service type ‘Domiciliary care service’.

If you believe you match this criterion and have not been contacted by NHS Test and Trace with information on ordering test kits, please call 119.

Ordering Test Kits

The agency manager is responsible for ordering test kits for the homecare workers in the team.

Each agency manager must register for test kits.

In order to apply, you will need:

  • your Unique Organisation Number (UON)
  • total number of homecare workers for testing

When ordering you will be asked to enter the number of residents or non-staff. You should enter zero for this.

Once you have placed an order, you will receive a confirmatory email from organisation.coronavirus.testing@notifications.service.gov.uk.

The agency manager will receive an email from organisation.coronavirus.testing@notifications.service.gov.uk when their test kits have been dispatched, informing them of their delivery date.

Test kits will be delivered in boxes of 40 to the address of your homecare agency, as registered with CQC.

The agency manager is responsible for taking delivery of the test kits.

The agency manager must then order kits every 28 days for their homecare workers.

If you have any issues ordering test kits, please call 119.

Webinars 

For more information you can join live webinars, which will be hosted every week by the DHSC.

These live webinars will talk you through the end-to-end process for homecare worker testing and include a live Q&A with the homecare testing team, who will be happy to answer your questions.

Sign up for the webinars

Lateral Flow Device Testing for domiciliary care staff

We acknowledge that currently the national focus on testing with domiciliary care is weekly testing with PCR, in line with the guidance above.  Providers have though raised concerns with regards the lack of parity with care homes, where additional testing is available with Lateral Flow Device Testing (LFTs). 

LFT testing kits can be ordered and utilised by individual staff, although we appreciate this requires staff compliance and agreement to manage this independently. 

How to get a lateral flow test:  Coronavirus – Get a test if you do not have symptoms (somerset.gov.uk)

Everyone in England who is not currently displaying symptoms of COVID-19 infection, can access free lateral flow tests to enable them to test twice weekly.

There are several routes available to receive twice weekly testing:

Extra Care Housing and Supported Living Services (updated 19/07/2021)

Please click to expand to view information specific to Extra Care Housing and Supported Living Services

The government has published guidance on regular retesting for extra care and supported living settings that meet the eligibility criteria (Department of Health and Social Care, 01/07/2021).

From the 09/12/2020 eligible Extra Care and Supported Living settings will be able to place orders to regularly test their residents and staff.

The Department of Health and Care (DHSC) has rolled out regular testing for staff and residents to extra care and supported living settings that meet the following criteria:​

  • a closed community with substantial facilities shared between multiple people, and ​
  • where most residents receive the kind of personal care that is CQC regulated (rather than help with cooking, cleaning and shopping)

Eligible Extra Care and Supported Living settings in England should conduct regular testing over a period of 4 weeks.

Staff should be tested on a weekly basis and residents should be tested every 28 days. Orders should be placed every 28 days.

Ordering Test Kits

Test kits should be ordered via the online portal: gov.uk/coronavirusLines are open from 7am – 11pm daily.  Please note that you will need your organisations Unique Organisation Number (UON) in order to place an order.

Please be aware that you will not be able to place another order until 21 days have passed from when your order was processed. The online replenishment portal will highlight the date that you can place your next order.

Webinars

The DHSC would like to invite providers to regular Extra Care and Supported Living testing webinars and are strongly encouraging providers and those involved in the testing process join the webinar.

The webinars will last 1 hour and give detailed information about all aspects of testing, including:

  • Ordering tests
  • Preparing for testing
  • Test kit delivery
  • The testing process itself
  • Registering completed test kits
  • How to send test kits back to our labs
  • Results and what they mean for your organisation.

The content of the webinars will largely be the same for each session, however will include key updates on testing so is subject to change.

The session will include a Q&A with representatives from the testing team, who will be able to answer your questions and address any concerns in the session.

Use this link to sign up to attend an Extra Care and Supported Living testing webinars.  If you are not able to attend the webinars, a recording of the session will be made available to you after the webinar has been completed using the same link.

Can settings share test kits with another provider, friends or family

  • Test kits for a setting must not be shared with anyone outside of the setting
  • Sharing test kits may lead to issues with test kit registration, courier collection and also contact tracing
  • If you have any spare test kits, they should be stored between 5 and 22 degrees Celsius until their expiry date, which is displayed on the swabs
  • Anyone that is symptomatic can get a test here: https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test

How can settings store spare tests?

  • The DHSC will send test kits in batches of 40 to Extra Care and Supported Living settings, so we appreciate that you may have a few spare
  • Test kits must be stored at an ambient temperature of between 5 and 22 degrees Celsius
  • You can store spare kits for future use if you have received a result that states ‘we could not read your sample’, or if you are directed to use your kits in the case of an outbreak

Can settings test throughout the whole week?

  • Yes, eligible settings can conduct testing throughout the whole week
  • Testing can be spread out throughout the week, settings do not have to test everyone on one day
  • If you are using the courier return method for 9 or more test kits, you can test throughout the whole week, including on weekends. You can book a courier at https://test-kit-collection.test-for-coronavirus.service.gov.uk/   
  • If you are using the post-box return method for 8 test kits or less, you should not test on Sunday unless the post box has a Sunday collection time. Please join our webinars for more information

Rapid Lateral Flow Testing available to support visits in and out of settings

The Department of Health and social Care (DHSC) has announce that visits in and out of extra care and supported living settings can now be supported by rapid lateral flow testing.

Testing is one tool that can be used to help mitigate the risks to identify asymptomatic visitors who are likely to be infectious before they visit so they are able to self-isolate immediately.

For full guidance on visits in and out, please use the following link:  https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/supported-living-services-during-coronavirus-covid-19/covid-19-guidance-for-supported-living (Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England, updated 17/08/2021)

For the on-site testing rapid lateral flow test guidance, please use the following link:  https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-lateral-flow-testing-in-adult-social-care-settings (Department of Health and Social Care, updated 09/07/2021)

Key messages from the DHSC for Extra Care and supported Living services
  • Extra care and supported living settings will be able to access rapid Lateral Flow Tests (LFTs) to support safer visits
  • Managers can place an order for tests using their Unique Organisation Number (UON) from the standard test kit ordering portal
  • Each setting will receive four test kits per person living in the setting per week which can be used to support both visits in and visits out
  • Setting managers may decide to use some of their additional rapid lateral flow testing allocation for testing of the person being supported to support safer visits at their discretion and with the consent of the person being supported
  • All testing for visitors and people receiving visits should be conducted on site assisted by trained staff. Test kits must not be given out for self-testing.
  • Testing and PPE should be viewed as a tool to mitigate risk, rather than a requirement for people to visit settings or receive visitors. Managers may wish to provide visitors with appropriate PPE where visiting is judged to be high-risk and the PPE can be tolerated by both the visitor and the person being visited
  • In the event of an outbreak, managers should take advice from the local health protection team who will undertake a risk assessment and determine subsequent next steps. Your HPT might recommend some visiting restrictions, these should continue until such time as it is understood that the outbreak has been brought under control
DHSC tips to prepare for visitation:
  • Communicate testing offering and expectations to the people living in these settings, families and visitors
  • Prepare staff for visitation, including appropriate training and reading the guidance for rapid lateral flow testing in adult social care settings
  • Have devices available if visitors require assistance registering their result
Registering LFT results

All LFT results (negative, positive, or void) must be registered online and this can either be done by the visitor themselves or a staff member.
You should register all LFT results at:  https://www.gov.uk/report-covid19-result

Registration should be done within 24hrs to help NHS Test and Trace understand results. This is crucial for the DHSC to understand the prevalence of coronavirus in care homes across the country and be able to support the care sector appropriately. It is therefore especially important that you have made the necessary arrangements to make sure that all LFT results are registered online.

Day Services (updated 27/08/2021)

Please click to expand to view information specific to day services

Summary

  • Staff should test using weekly Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing and twice weekly Lateral Flow Tests (LFTs).
  • Service users that can test, should test twice weekly with LFT 3-4 days apart. If a service user is only visiting once a week, they only need to test on that day.
  • Centres must be signed up via the self-referral portal to gain access to testing, then once approved, managers can order test kits every month for staff and service users

COVID-19 testing for adult day care centres guidance for day services on how to access testing has been published by the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE).  This guidance also includes information about an Adult Day Care Centres Testing Webinar – Please use this link to sign up to attend.

The link for day care centres to sign-up on the self-referral portal is https://request-onboarding.test-for-coronavirus.service.gov.uk/. Day Centres should sign-up using the referral UON 99915258 and select that they are an “adult day care centre”. Once reviewed and accepted they will then receive an email containing their own specific UON to order test kits.

Further Information

Reporting LFT Results to Managers

The Department of Health and Social care (DHSC) has told us that they are aware that reporting of Lateral Flow Test results to managers can be time consuming, and that they are working on a digital solution to this. Whilst this is in progress they are happy to be able to support an alternative way to have results sent to a management email address as follows:

  1. Enter your details as normal.
  2. At the final step, when you are asked to verify the information you have input, you are able to edit the email address section to include a management email address.
  3. Enter alternative email address. This should contain some detail which identifies the address as an administrative account (e.g. admin@daycentre.com or manager@charityname.com)
  4. Submit your registration. Results will be registered, and a record of the registration will be sent to the contact details entered.
PCR staff testing

Weekly routine staff PCR testing is currently available for all adult day care centres that are run by paid day care staff and deemed critical to be open during lockdown by Local Authorities. Services must be for adults over 18 and provided within non-residential care settings that support the health and wellbeing of adults. This includes settings such as:

  • purpose-built day centres
  • day centres attached to or part of a care home or supported living
  • other buildings in communities specifically used for regular adult day care

Full information can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-testing-for-adult-day-care-centre-workers (Department of Health and Social Care, updated 27/08/2021)

Why Dual Testing is used in Adult Day Care Centres

Rapid Lateral Flow Tests (LFTs) and Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests deliver different benefits. Conducting both tests on the same day combines the speed of LFTs with the higher sensitivity of PCR tests.

Using LFTs helps to quickly identify some individuals who have a high volume of the virus in their body and are more likely to be infectious. LFTs will not identify everyone who is infected, but speed is important for stopping the spread of the virus. LFTs can help to give an earlier warning of infection in the setting, rather than waiting for the PCR result to return from the lab. This helps to contain the infection as quickly as possible.

The PCR tests find people who are infected but were not identified by the LFT, for example people who have lower amounts of the virus in their body because they may be at the start of the infection. Testing with LFTs midweek and on the same day as the PCR is the best way to identify people who are infectious

How can adult day care centres get access to testing via the self-referral portal?
  • Day care centre managers that meet the eligibility criteria set out above can navigate to https://request-onboarding.test-for-coronavirus.service.gov.uk/
  • Managers will need to enter the referral UON of ‘99915258’ and provide details of their adult day care centre. Please note, this is only a referral code and cannot be used to order test kits. Centres will receive a separate UON via email once they have been accepted for them to be able to order test kits.
  • Organisations which run multiple day care centres at various locations will need to register each centre separately to receive multiple UONs, even if the contact details for each of these are the same.
  • Once they have received an acceptance from the Local Authority, NHS Test & Trace will email day care centre managers with their UON and instructions to place orders from the test kit ordering portal
Testing for all staff and service users in adult day care centres in England

After the completion of a successful pilot study, NHS Test and Trace is making regular lateral flow (LFT) testing available to all staff and service users in adult day care centres in England, to be conducted alongside the existing weekly staff Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing.

  • Staff testing schedule:  2 rapid lateral flow tests and 1 PCR test per week, ideally before starting their work shift:
    • One rapid LFT on the same day as the PCR test (Thurs-Sun).
    • One rapid LFT on days 3-4 between PCR tests.
  • Service users testing schedule:
    • Service users can still visit day centres if they have not tested.
    • Testing is not mandatory.
      • For service users that are able to test – test twice a week with 3-4 days in between using rapid LFT only:
        • If they are attending twice a week, test on the days of attendance.
        • If they are attending once a week, they only need to test once in the week, the day prior to attending the centre.

Testing can be completed either at the day care centre, or at home by themselves or with the support of a parent or carer. This is at the discretion of the day care centre.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) understands that not all service users will be able to test, and testing should not be considered mandatory for entry into the day care centre. Service users can still visit the centre if they have not tested. However, if a service user tests positive, they should self-isolate immediately, take a confirmatory PCR test and not attend the day care centre.

Please use the following link to order rapid LFT kits using the same Unique Organisation Number (UON) that you use to order PCR tests:  https://request-testing.test-for-coronavirus.service.gov.uk/

Tests can be ordered immediately. Please be aware, similar to when you place an order for a PCR test, you will not be able to place another rapid LFT order until 21 days have passed from when your order was processed. The online replenishment portal will highlight the date that you can place your next rapid LFT order.

For further support and information, please attend one of the DHSC’s rapid lateral flow testing webinars at 11:00am on Tuesday 4th May and then recurring weekly on Mondays (see below).  We strongly encourage providers and those involved in the testing process to join the webinar, which can also be attended by service users and carers/parents.

Sign-up to regular adult day care centre testing webinars

The Department of Health and Social Care hosts regular interactive testing webinars every Monday, including a live Q&A, to go through test kit ordering, conducting testing, registering, returning test kits and results.  If centres are not able to attend the webinar, they are able to sign up and a recording of the session will be made available after the session.

Sign up for the webinars

Personal Assistants (27/08/2021)

Please click to expand to view information specific to domiciliary care services

Personal Assistants (PAs) in England are entitled to regular weekly PCR testing, from 17/02/2021.  This applies to all PAs in England who provide care and support to individuals in their own homes, where they come within 2m of the person they care for.

This is in addition to the existing support available to PAs to keep themselves and those they provide care and support to as safe as possible.

This includes guidance on Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) measures and the availability of free PPE in government guidance on using direct payments during the coronavirus outbreak: full guidance for people receiving direct payments and personal assistants (Department of Heath and Social Care, updated 24/08/2021)

PA’s will be able to order a month’s supply of test PCR kits every 28 days, delivered to their home address, enabling them to conduct weekly coronavirus testing at home.

This is part of the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) commitment to protect frontline workers, their loved ones and the people they care for and reduce the spread of coronavirus.

Further guidance about how PAs can order tests, how to conduct testing and what the results mean is available in government guidance on Coronavirus (COVID-19) testing for anyone working in adult social care who are not part of regular testing at work and unpaid carers (Department of Health and social Care, updated 18/06/2021).  A Guidance document and  summary has also been produced, along with a User Guide and FAQs.  The DHSC are also running a Personal Assistant testing webinars.  Please use this link to sign up to attend the webinar.

Please note that this testing programme is only for directly employed or self-employed carers who support people in their own homes.

If you are already part of a regular national testing programme through your employer or another organisation (e.g. through the homecare, or extra care and supported living testing programme), please continue.

The collection of completed tests should be booked using the following link: https://test-kit-collection.test-for-coronavirus.service.gov.uk/

The courier booking portal has been updated to improve the service. This update introduces three new changes:

  • There will be a new afternoon slot between 2:00pm – 4:00pm
  • At the moment, your organisation is designated a single slot.  However, now, you can book any collection window that best suits your organisation. The collection windows are:
    • Morning (9:00am – 1:00pm)
    • Afternoon (2:00pm – 4:00pm)
    • Evening (6:00pm – 9:00pm) (this slot for specialist Ministry of Justice locations only, please do not use it if it is displayed)
  • Please note that you can only book one slot a day.
  • There is now a regional cap for each collection window each day.  Once these are full the option will no longer be shown to your organisation. However, you can book a slot 28 days in advance, so please book a slot in advance to avoid being capped.
General guidance
  • This service enables you to arrange a courier to collect your COVID-19 testing kits, which will be taken to the lab for processing.
  • This is the only way that care homes can send test kits to the labs
  • This service is for the collection of used kits only, and not for the ordering of new testing kits.
  • You will be asked to provide your care home ID or equivalent unique identifier to access this service.
  • When arranging your courier you will be asked to predict the number of kits you expect to send back.  You will not be able to change it after submitting, but please do not worry if you end up testing a different number – it is only there to help plan volumes and does not need to be exact.
  • You can now make courier booking 28 days in advance, but it must still be booked by 7pm on the day before testing. Couriers are available seven days a week.
  • Please do not start testing until you have completed your courier booking.
  • If you require support with your courier booking, please contact the customer care team via COVIDCareHomeTesting@dhsc.gov.uk.

Please contact the Test and Trace contact centre on 119 the following morning if your courier has not arrived, and they will book you an urgent replacement courier. 119 opens at 7am every day.

Missed collections

If you are noticing that pre-booked couriers are regularly not turning up to collect your PCR tests, there may be some confusion as to where the driver should go to collect your kits.

To help avoid this issue for your care home, please help us to understand how to access your care home.

When booking a courier, there is a section to add any notes that might help couriers find your care home – please populate this notes section if possible.

This may include:

  • Specific directions to the home
  • Which door to collect the kits from (if not labelled)
  • If your care home is near to another care home or other facility, you can specify which is which Day Centre Testing:  How can adult day care centres get access to testing via the self-referral portal?

Symptomatic Residents:

  • If you have a symptomatic residents (new continuous cough and/or a high temperature and/or a loss of, or change to, the sense of smell or taste) or receive a positive test result from whole home testing please ensure you inform Public Health England via swhpt@phe.gov.uk as COVID-19 is a notifiable disease.
  • Infection prevention and control advice will be given, and PPE provision checked.
  • Please remember to notify Somerset County Council Public Health via swhpt@phe.gov.uk again should the situation escalate, as shown in the flowchart below
  • Please ensure that GPs are informed of test results

Mental Capacity guidance:

Local Information

Please follow the flowchart below (updated 18/08/2021) if you have identified possible or confirmed case(s) of COVID-19:

A pdf version of the flowchart (updated 18/08/2021) with links is available here

Care Homes

These are sometimes called rapid tests as they produce results very quickly, within 30 minutes. You will receive these tests in addition to the  tests that the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) already send you for weekly staff and monthly resident testing.

The LFT test kits will be used for scheduled visitor testing.  The DHSC will send further information as soon with details of when your LFT test kits will arrive, and guidance on how many you will get, how to use them, how you can order more, and what support available.

The DHSC is providing a webinar on LFT test kits.  Please sign-up to it to find out more: https://event.webcasts.com/starthere.jsp?ei=1408929&tp_key=d2a77c17e3

Guidance

Every day, many care home residents across the country require essential care from healthcare professionals, who visit care homes to provide this care.

To minimise risks, all NHS community based front line staff have access to twice weekly lateral flow device testing through the NHS.

To help keep staff and residents in your care home safe, you may request evidence of this test from any NHS front line staff visiting your care home, and we have therefore asked that staff take a photo of the test result so it can be presented.  It is vital that appropriate face to face assessments continue and that you allow appropriate access to the home for professional staff.  We do appreciate the nervousness regarding increased visitation, but do need to ensure that appropriate assessment and intervention is provided.  If the staff member has proof of test results, it is not necessary to retest them on arrival.

If they are unable to provide evidence, or if they are not employed by the NHS you should follow the guidance below request that they conduct a Lateral Flow Device Test (LFT) using your care home supply before admitting:

  • The default position is that without a negative test, the professional should not be allowed into the care home, (unless in an emergency, unless overridden by the care home manager following a risk based decision, or unless their entry is required by law such as CQC inspectors).
  • For NHS professionals, care homes should see evidence from the professional of a negative LFT within the last 72hrs, which shows they are following the NHS staff testing regime.
  • Professionals who are not part of regular testing for NHS staff or CQC inspectors (for example professionals such as podiatrists or engineers) will need to be tested at the care home in the same way as visitors.
  • If they are visiting multiple care homes in one day, these professionals will only need to be tested at the first care home they visit that day and can use evidence of this test at the next care home they visit that day.
  • CQC inspectors will now test at home using a LFT on the day of a care home inspection, in addition to their weekly PCR.
  • Like care home staff, visiting professionals are exempt from testing for 90 days following a positive PCR test, unless they develop new symptoms.
Guidance:

We have seen a small number of cases where care home staff have continued to work whilst symptomatic and this has in turn created an outbreak within the care home environment.  It is really important that all providers ensure that they have processes in place to ensure that staff do not work whilst they are experiencing any symptoms that may indicate Covid-19.  Some staff may have financial concerns, others may be acutely aware of the pressure on colleagues and believe continuing to work is in their best interests.  Clearly this needs to be addressed and we would ask all providers to please ensure that they provide staff with reassurance that Infection Control Grant monies are available to ensure staff continue to be paid whilst isolating, and that continuing to work when experiencing symptoms can lead to a significant outbreak and potentially far greater risk to residents and colleagues.

Any staff member who receives a positive test result (via a LFT or a PCR) or who displays symptoms should not be in work and must isolate at home, without exception – they cannot continue to work in any capacity, even with adults who have tested positive for COVID-19, or have been vaccinated.

If you have COVID-19 symptoms or have received a positive test result

Stay at home and begin to self-isolate for 10 days from when your symptoms start. Arrange to have a test for COVID-19 if you have not already had one. The result of the test will determine how long you must stay at home and self-isolate.

Stay at home while you are waiting to be tested or are waiting for test results.

A positive test result means you must complete a 10-day isolation period.  If your test is negative, you can stop self-isolating as long as you are well.

If you do not have symptoms, but have tested positive for COVID-19, stay at home and self-isolate for 10 days from the day the test was taken.  If you develop symptoms after your test, restart your 10-day isolation period from the day the symptoms start.

Stay as far away from other members of your household as possible, especially if they are clinically extremely vulnerable. Avoid using shared spaces such as kitchens and other living areas while others are present and take your meals back to your room to eat.

This image describes a typical coronavirus incubation timeline

 

If you live in the same household as someone with COVID-19

Stay at home for 10 full days. The 10-day period starts from the day the first person in your house developed symptoms or, if they do not have symptoms, from the day their test was taken.

If you do not have symptoms of COVID-19 yourself you do not need a test. Only arrange a test if you develop COVID-19 symptoms.

If you develop symptoms and your test result is positive, follow the same advice for people with COVID-19 to stay at home and self-isolate for 10 days from when your symptoms started, regardless of where you are in your 10-day period.  This means that your total isolation period will be longer than 10 days.  If you have a negative test result during your 10 day isolation period, you must continue to self-isolate until it has been completed.

This image describes a household self-isolation timeline

We are unfortunately seeing an increased number of outbreaks in Somerset, and whilst this is very difficult for all involved it is vital that we look to identify any learning from these cases to support the wider system. 

We would like to outline some of the points that have been raised during discussions:

  • Care homes should consider what measures they should put in place to mitigate for for a situation where almost the entire staff team has to self-isolate.  For example, how would agency staff or those who normally work in different setting access records, know about each resident’s individual needs, Treatment Escalation Plans, the medication round etc?  Are your care plans in place and easy to follow, would clinicians easily be able to identify what the normal state of each resident is and whether therefore they have deteriorated?  Do you have baseline observations recorded so any drop in oxygen saturations could be identified? 
  • It’s often the simple things that get overlooked.  Cleaning schedules and rosters of cleaning staff, how are these organised, do your cleaning staff all work the same day shifts?  Does this mean cleaning is restricted to the 9-5 and could this be extended to ensure that cleaning is provided throughout the day and into the evening?  Are you using the right cleaning products, preferably chlorine based?  Do your staff share coffee cups?  Do you have a tin of biscuits that they all reach into; by sharing we increase contact between staff and this simple act could help spread the virus.
  • We need to please remind staff that they should not be working when they are unwell, Infection Control Grant monies are available to ensure those who are unwell and isolated are paid.  In addition, we need to remind staff that previous behaviours of coming to work when unwell because of an awareness of the impact of staff shortages and doing what you think is right, is actually a risk to residents and potential a route into the home for the virus.
  • Staff ideally should be cohorted such that they work in teams or bubbles.  For example one staff group per floor in larger homes, or the allocation of cleaning staff to specific areas.
  • Activities outside of the working environment must stop whilst we are in the pandemic, staff meeting and in particular car sharing should not be happening at this time.
  • Staff should come to work and change into uniform once in work, social distancing must be observed in any changing rooms and any towels must not be shared.
  • Staff must be socially distanced and during any breaks, if possible stagger breaks to reduce any transmission risk and ideally any staff areas should be well ventilated.

Information about the government’s coronavirus antibody testing programme (Department of Health and Social Care, updated 22/08/2021)

At-home antibody testing

The Department of Health and Social Care has launched an at-home antibody testing service which is now available to all paid staff in the adult social care sector in England. This at-home antibody testing service is supporting surveillance studies that are helping the government to understand COVID-19 and how it has spread in the adult social care sector.

Two sets of information have been produced, one for staff working in care homes, and one for staff working across the rest of the adult social care sector both of which contain the link to sign up for an at-home antibody test.

Providers must tell the Care Quality Commission about the death of a person using their service without delay if either of the following has happened:

  • the person died while a regulated activity was being provided;
  • their death may have been a result of the regulated activity or how it was being provided.

For further information and the notification form please visit: Death of a person using the service – notification form (updated 29/04/2021)

Verification of Death, Death Certification and Registration procedures

In addition, where the person who has died had a learning disability a notification must also be completed for the Learning Disability Mortality Review (LeDeR) Programme using the following link:  https://www.bris.ac.uk/sps/leder/notification-system/ 

The Government is asking employers to let the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) know if an employee or volunteer in the adult social care sector has died.

Please follow steps to take following the death of a person who worked in adult social care in England (updated by the Department of Health and Social Care on 09/08/2020) where deaths have already occurred, and if there are any further deaths.

Employers are encouraged to tell the family, friends or colleagues of the care worker who has died that they are submitting this information.

There is no legal duty on employers to submit this information to DHSC, but the Government has said that submitting this information will help to make sure the appropriate steps can be taken following the death of a care worker, including support for employers.

Please see the useful advice and guidance below from the CQC to care homes who are wanting to increase their bed capacity as part of the COVID-19 response.

If providers are making an application to increase their capacity and help meet DHSC or CCG COVID-19 contingency plans, it’s important they tell the CQC in their covering email and include the word ‘COVID-19’ in your email.

Further information (updated 22/07/2021).

CQC has announced that, as the country moves into the next phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, it will be moving on from it’s transitional monitoring approach.  As things change, CQC has said that it will continue to develop its approach and building on what it know works well.

From July 2021 CQC are introducing a monthly review of the information it has on most of the services it regulates. To start with, this will not include primary care dental services or NHS trusts.

CQC has said that this approach will:

  • help to prioritise it’s activity
  • involve publishing a statement on it’s website for lower risk services. This will let providers and the public know that we have not found any evidence that tells us we need to re-assess the rating or quality of care at that service at that time.

For all the services that CQC regulates, including primary care dental services and NHS trusts, CQC has said that it will continue to:

  • focus on safety and how effectively a service is led
  • have structured conversations with providers, with a focus on safety and leadership
  • use it’s specific existing key lines of enquiry (KLOEs) to monitor a service
  • use digital methods and our local relationships to have better direct contact with people who are using services, their families and staff in services
  • target inspection activity where we have concerns.

For further information visit: https://www.cqc.org.uk/guidance-providers/how-we-inspect-regulate/our-monitoring-approach-what-expect(updated 07/07/2021)

COVID-19 Insight: Issue 12: Summary: In this month’s report, we look at data on death notifications involving COVID-19 received from individual care homes, we review our inspections of acute NHS services monitoring inspection prevention and control, and we highlight what we have learnt about how risks can build into a closed culture.

COVID-19 Insight: Issue 11: Summary: In this month’s report, we look ahead to the publication of our provider collaboration review of how services across seven local areas in England have worked together for people with a learning disability during the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 Insight: Issue 10: Summary: In this month’s report, we look at the impact of the pandemic on access to dental services, and give examples of the innovative ways that local services have collaborated to care for people with cancer, or suspected cancer.

COVID-19 Insight: Issue 9: Summary: In this month’s report, we look at the impact of the pandemic on urgent and emergency care services and pharmacy services in NHS trusts.

COVID-19 Insight: Issue 8: Summary: In this month’s report, we look at the evidence so far about how urgent and emergency care services have been affected by the pandemic during this winter, and discuss what action CQC is taking to provide constructive support.

COVID-19 Insight: Issue 7: Summary: In this month’s report, we share further data on the designated settings scheme for adult social care, and also look into more detail on data on deaths from COVID-19.We want these insight reports to help everyone involved in health and social care to work together to learn from the pandemic.

COVID-19 Insight: Issue 6:  Summary: In this month’s report, we share regional data on the designated settings that allow people with a COVID-positive test result to be discharged safely from hospital, and also the latest data on registered care home provision. We also look at how providers have collaborated to provide urgent and emergency care during the pandemic.

COVID-19 Insight: Issue 5:  Summary: In this month’s report, we build on the learning about good practice in infection prevention and control that we discussed in the last issue by focusing on care homes. We also present the key findings from a survey to understand the experience of inpatients who were discharged from hospital from April to May 2020, when the first wave of the pandemic was at its height.

COVID-19 Insight: Issue 4:  Summary: In this month’s report, we explore some of the learning about good practice in infection prevention and control, and share some of the good examples we have encountered in understanding how providers have worked together to tackle COVID-19.

COVID-19 Insight: Issue 3:  Summary: In this month’s report, we explore further the need for providers and other organisations to collaborate to tackle COVID-19. We look at what concerns have prompted us to carry out a number of inspections in recent months, and at the challenges that providers have faced in caring for people detained under the Mental Health Act or subject to a deprivation of liberty.

COVID-19 Insight: Issue 2:  Summary: In this report, we explain the information we have gathered on the pressures that services and local systems have faced and the efforts that have been made to tackle them.

COVID-19 Insight: Issue 1: Summary: This first insight document focuses on adult social care: reviewing data on outbreaks, deaths and availability of PPE, and in particular highlighting the impact of COVID-19 on staff wellbeing and the financial viability of adult social care services. 

All care providers are reminded of the Government requirement to register on the national Capacity Tracker and update it on a daily basis in order to make vacancy and other critical information available to NHS and social care colleagues in real time 

Please also note that when responding to questions this should always be on the basis of your position since the last time you competed it.  There have been instances of providers responding based on the situation that they were experiencing earlier in the year, which have resulted in concerns being raised about whether current guidance has been followed.

In the event that a care provider identifies concerns re: safe staffing levels, that cannot be resolved through implementation of its own existing business continuity plans and arrangements, care providers are now able to then contact the Temporary Staffing Team (by email or phone) and submit a staffing request.  Bank / Agency staff cover will be sought by the team, with the provider invoiced at existing Somerset Foundation Trust rates.  

To access the process, contact details and staffing request form, please visit: Somerset Care Sector Procedures COVID19 Temporary Staffing

For urgent requests for CHC help/support related to COVID-19 and CHC funded packages of care, please email: mailto:somccg.chc.contracts@nhs.net