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.
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 email@example.com immediately and the team kept informed of any escalations.
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.uk. You 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.
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:
- Booster Vaccine Dose for people most at risk from COVID-19 (NHS, 05/10/2021)
- NHS COVID Pass (updated 04/10/2021)
- Additional funding to help adult social care this winter – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) (DHSC, 30/09/21)
- Free personal protective equipment (PPE) scheme – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) (DHSC, 30/09/21)
- UKHSA publishes new recommendations for COVID-19 infection prevention and control (UK Health Security Agency, 27/09/21)
- Temporary medical exemptions for COVID-19 vaccination of people working or deployed in care homes (DHSC, 15/09/21)
- COVID-19: Autumn and Winter Plan 2021 (Cabinet Office, 14/09/2021)
- Guidance on shielding and protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable from COVID-19 (Public Health England and Department of Health and Social Care, updated 28/09/2021)
- Leaflets for social care staff to support the annual flu programme (Public Health England, updated 09/09/2021)
- Moving to step 4 of the roadmap (Cabinet Office, 27/08/2021)
- Guidance for local authorities and clinical commissioning groups in the delivery of direct payments and personal health budgets (Department of Health and Social Care, 24/08/2021)
- Using direct payments during the coronavirus outbreak: full guidance for people receiving direct payments and personal assistants (Department of Health and Social Care, updated 24/08/2021)
- Guidance for care of the deceased with suspected or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) (16/08/2021)
- Getting help with daily activities outside your home during coronavirus (Department of Health and Social Care, updated 29/07/2021)
- Overview of adult social care guidance on coronavirus (COVID-19) (Department of Health and Social Care, updated 23/06/2021)
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): providing home care (Department of Health and Social Care, updated 17/05/2021)
- COVID19: ethical framework for adult social care (updated 28/04/2021)
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): support for care homes (updated 01/04/2021)
- Restricting workforce movement between care homes and other care settings (Department of Health and Social Care, updated 03/03/2021)
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): reducing risk in adult social care (01/12/2020)
- Social Care Sector COVID-19 Support Taskforce: report on first phase of COVID-19 pandemic (Department of Health and Social Care, updated 12/10/2020)
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): reuse of medicines in a care home or hospice (Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England, and NHS Improvement, updated 02/09/2020)
- Joint statement on personalised approaches to care and treatment (20/05/2020)
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
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.
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.
- 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
- Booster Vaccine Dose for people most at risk from COVID-19 (NHS, 05/10/2021)
- DHSC Stakeholder Google Drive Public Health England: Immunisation (updated 01/10/2021)
- Vaccination of people working or deployed in care homes: operational guidance (Department of Health and Social Care, updated 03/09/2021)
- Letter from Claire Armstrong, Director of Adult Social Care Delivery, to local authority chief executives, directors of adult social services, care home providers and care home managers (04/08/2021)
- Statement on COVID-19 vaccination of people working/deployed in care homes: the role of the Care Quality Commission (CQC, 04/08/2021)
- Blog by Dr Pete Calveley, CEO of Barchester Healthcare: Our experience of vaccines as a condition of deployment (04/08/2021)
General information about COVID-19 vaccines
- The COVID-19 vaccination programme (Public Health England, updated 06/10/2021)
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine (updated 19/09//2021)
- Public Health England Vaccine Communications Toolkit for Adult Social Care (updated 03/09/2021)
- COVID-19 vaccination: women of childbearing age, currently pregnant or breastfeeding (Public Health England, 29/07/2021)
- COVID-19 vaccination: a guide for social care staff (Public Health England, 01/03/2021)
- COVID-19 vaccination: guide for healthcare workers (Public Health England, 01/03/2021)
- Covid-19 Immunisation – Consent Guidance (added 04/12/2020)
- COVID-19 vaccination: A guide for adults (Public Health England, 23/08/2021)
- Easy read answers to questions about the coronavirus vaccine (December 2020)
- What to expect after your COVID-19 vaccination (Public Health England, December 2020)
- Easy read information about the Covid-19 vaccine (Mencap, added December 2020)
- British Sign Language (BSL) videos on COVID-19 vaccination (Public Health England, 17/06/2021)
- Recorded webinar: Webinar: Your Questions Answered on the COVID-19 vaccine (Department of Health and Social Care, added 21/05/2021)
- Public Health England have produced a series of videos in English and other languages to combat vaccine disinformation. View them here (public Health England, updated 13/04/2021).
- NHS England has produced a series of animated videos (added February 2021), aimed at anyone who has received their COVID-19 vaccination, to explain why it remains important to follow current infection prevention guidelines after vaccination.
- Information about vaccines: For people with a learning disability and autistic people (NHS England and NHS Improvement, added December 2020)
Vaccination Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
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 20/09/2021) already in place and if you have any concerns or queries please contact us via ASCCOVID19@somerset.gov.uk.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) risk assessment (QCovid®) (NHS Digital, 25/03/2021)
- Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency
- Medical devices given exceptional use authorisations during the COVID-19 pandemic (updated 07/10/2021)
- National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE):
- COVID-19 rapid guideline: managing COVID-19 (updated 04/10/2021)
- COVID-19 rapid guideline: rheumatological autoimmune, inflammatory and metabolic bone disorders (updated 31/03/2021)
- Safeguarding adults in care homes (26/02/2021)
- Creating a safeguarding culture: A quick guide for registered managers of care homes (2021)
- Developing and implementing guidance for staff delegating clinical tasks to informal carers and relatives during the COVID-19 pandemic (September 2020)
- COVID-19 rapid guideline: dialysis service delivery (updated 11/09/2020)
- COVID-19 rapid guideline: interstitial lung disease (15/05/2020)
- COVID-19 rapid guideline: chronic kidney disease (15/05/2020)
- Department of Health and Social Care:
- COVID-19: providing unpaid care to adults with learning disabilities and autistic adults (updated 24/08/2021)
- COVID-19: supporting adults with learning disabilities and autistic adults (updated 24/08/2021)
- Supported living services during coronavirus (COVID-19) (updated, 17/08/2021)
- Alcohol and drug misuse prevention and treatment guidance (updated 11/08/2021)
- National strategy for autistic children, young people and adults: 2021 to 2026 (updated 22/07/2021)
- Bridging the gap: Transitional Safeguarding and the role of social work with adults (03/06/2021)
- Supporting people living with dementia through safeguarding processes (updated, 31/03/2021)
- COVID-19 testing in general practice (04/03/2021)
- Restricting workforce movement between care homes and other care settings (updated 03/03/2021)
- Vitamin D and care homes guidance (24/02/2021)
- NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSE&E):
- Updates to community pharmacy regarding COVID-19 (29/09/2021)
- Updates to general practice regarding COVID-19 (updated 20/07/2021)
- Dental standard operating procedure: Transition to recovery (updated 16/09/2021)
- Mental health, learning disabilities and autism guidance (23/07/2021)
- Dementia wellbeing in the COVID-19 pandemic (15/06/2021)
- Mental Health needs in Care Homes, a presentation by Dr Amanda Thompsell, National specialty advisor in older adult’s mental health NHSE&I (added 21/05/2021)
- Third phase of NHS response to COVID-19 (updated 13/10/2020)
- Guidance for healthcare teams on the release of adult patients from the secure and detained estate during coronavirus (19/05/2020)
- Workforce guidance for mental health, learning disabilities and autism, and specialised commissioning services during the coronavirus pandemic (08/04/2020)
- A letter clarifying the use of the Clinical Frailty Scale (CFS) and the use of do not attempt cardiopulmonary resuscitation (DNACPR) with younger patients, those with a stable long term physical need, learning disability or autism (03/04/2020)
- Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS)
- Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE)
- Delivering safe, face-to-face adult day care (updated 24/09/2021)
- Best interests decisions: A COVID-19 quick guide (updated 27/07/2021)
- Prevention in social care (May 2021)
- COVID-19: Supporting autistic people and people with learning disabilities (updated July 2020)
- Office of the Public Guardian
- Making and registering an LPA during the coronavirus outbreak (updated 20/09/2021)
- Being a deputy or attorney during the coronavirus outbreak (updated 20/09/2021)
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): Office of the Public Guardian response (updated 20/09/2021)
- How to register an EPA during the coronavirus outbreak (updated 21/06/2021)
- NHS and social care staff: check if a COVID-19 patient has an attorney or deputy (Updated 31/03/2021)
- British Geriatrics Society:
- Coronavirus and older people resource series (updated 10/03/2021)
- Guide on Managing the COVID-19 pandemic in care homes (updated 18/11/2020)
- Identifying older people most vulnerable to COVID-19 (07/09/2020)
- Atypical Covid-19 presentations in older people – the need for continued vigilance (updated 14/04/2020)
- Health and Care Video Library: How to use a pulse oximeter at home (28/05/2021)
- University College London have produced a decision guide to support practitioners and family carers of people with dementia during Covid-19 as part of the NHS England Dementia wellbeing in the COVID-19 pandemic guide (21/05/2021)
- National Institute for Health Research (NIHR): Patients living with dementia who ‘walk with purpose or intent’ in the COVID-19 crisis (added 22/04/2020)
- Video (8 min): Meeting the Needs of People with Dementia Living in Care Homes during Covid-19 (May 2020)
- Managing a fall that may require an ambulance during the COVID-19 pandemic (added May 2020)
- The British Psychological Society: Supporting older people and people living with dementia during self-isolation (08/04/2020)
- Real Talk: COVID-19: Evidence-based advice for difficult conversations (23/03/2020)
- VitalTalk: COVID communication guide
- Digital Social Care: Covid-19 Guidance
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, 04/10/2021)
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
- 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:
– Update on self isolation
– New care home visiting
– Refresher on testing
View the webinar
The Government has published the following guidance in relation to patient pathways from hospitals to Adult Social Care settings:
- Admission and care of people in care homes (Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England, Public Heath England and the Care Quality Commission, updated 17/08/2021)
- Stepdown of infection control precautions within hospitals and discharging COVID-19 patients from hospital to home settings (Public Health England, updated 16/08/2021).
- Hospital discharge and community support: policy and operating model (Department of Health and Social Care, updated 05/07/2021)
- Discharge into care homes: designated settings (Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England, Public Heath England and the Care Quality Commission, updated 17/05/2021) for people leaving hospital who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are transferring to a care home (this includes working age adults who reside in a care home).
- Hospital discharge service guidance (Department of Health and Social Care, updated 02/02/2021). This includes leaflets for patients.
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.
- Visiting arrangements in care homes (Department of Health and Social Care, updated 23/08/2021)
- Summary of guidance for visitors (Department of Health and Social Care, updated 23/08/2021)
- For guidance on the PPE that visitors should wear please refer to how to work safely in care homes in England (Public Health England, 16/08/2021).
- The government has produced infographics which may be useful in supporting visitors to follow good practice with hand hygiene (hand washing or using hand sanitiser) and putting on and taking off PPE.
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
- COVID-19: Free-of-charge DBS applications and fast-track Barred List check service (updated 22/10/2020)
- COVID-19: How DBS is supporting the fight against coronavirus (updated 16/07/2020) .
- Travel abroad and coronavirus (COVID-19) (Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, updated 04/10/2021)
- Red, amber and green list rules for entering England (Department for Transport, updated 04/10/2021)
- Quarantine and testing if you’ve been in an amber list country (Department of Health and Social Care, updated 04/10/2021)
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): safer travel guidance for passengers (Department for Transport, updated 22/09/2021)
- Working safely during coronavirus COVID-19) (Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, updated 04/10//2021)
- COVID-19: guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection (Public Health England, updated 29/09/2021)
- Actions for schools during the coronavirus outbreak (Department for Education, updated 27/09/2021)
- What parents and carers need to know about early years providers, schools and colleges during COVID-19 (Department for Education, updated 27/09/2021)
- Actions for schools during the coronavirus outbreak (Department for Education, updated 27/09/2021)
- Guidance for contacts of people with confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection who do not live with the person (Public Health England, 24/09/2021)
- Face coverings: when to wear one, exemptions, and how to make your own (Department of Health and Social Care and Cabinet Office, updated 17/09/2021)
- COVID-19: arranging or attending a funeral or commemorative event (Public Health England and Department of Health and Social Care, updated 27/08/2021)
- COVID-19 Response: Summer 2021 (Roadmap) (Cabinet Office, updated 27/08/2021)
- COVID-19: guidance for hostel services for people experiencing homelessness and rough sleeping (Public Health England and Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, 16/08/2021)
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for local government (Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, updated 27/07/2021)
- Maintaining records of staff, customers and visitors to support NHS Test and Trace (Department of Health and Social Care, 20/07/2021)
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): local death management (Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, 24/05/2021)
- Somerset Local Outbreak Management Plan (Somerset County Council, 24/03/2020)
- Coronavirus: How to help safely (Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, updated 05/03/2021)
- SAGE advice on reducing the risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission in the home (Cabinet Office, 07/12/2020)
- Local COVID-19 outbreaks: lessons learnt and good practice (Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, 14/09/2020)
- COVID-19 (coronavirus) absence: A quick guide for parents and carers (Public Health Somerset, September 2020)
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): support for victims of modern slavery (Home Office, 06/04/2020)
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): working safely (Health and safety Executive)
- Working with migrants and refugees during the COVID-19 crisis (Chartered Institute of Housing)
Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- PPE portal: how to order COVID-19 personal protective equipment (PPE) – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) (updated 06/10/21)
- COVID-19: infection prevention and control (IPC) (Public Health England, updated 29/09/2021)
- COVID-19: how to work safely in domiciliary care (Public Health England, updated 26/08/2021)
- COVID-19: management of exposed staff and patients in health and social care settings (Public Health England, updated 23/08/2021)
- COVID-19: how to work safely in care homes (Public Health England, updated 16/08/2021)
- Supporting excellence in infection prevention and control behaviours: Implementation Toolkit (Skills for Care, 09/06/2021)
- COVID-19: Guidance for the remobilisation of services within health and care settings: Infection prevention and control recommendations (Public Health England, 01/06/2021)
- Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) illustrated guide for community and social care settings (Public Health England, updated 09/06/2021)
- Personal protective equipment and heat: risk of heat stress (Public Health England and the Health and Safety Executive, 09/06/2021)
- Why fresh air is so important in controlling the spread of Covid-19 (Public Health Somerset, February 2021)
- Covid-19 deep cleaning guidance in Care Homes
- Your 5 Moments For Hand Hygiene Poster
- Care home mutual aid IPC training support
- COVID-19 Super trainer competency document
- CQC Inspection Information Gathering Tool: Infection Prevention and Control
- Hand Gel Use sheet
- Hand Washing sheet
- Homemade Masks poster
- Putting on personal protective equipment (PPE) for non-aerosol generating procedures
- Taking off personal protective equipment (PPE) for non-aerosol generating procedures
- Effectiveness of Correct Hand Washing
- Trainers Resources on Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) in Care Homes
- Supporting fit testing: steps and actions to be taken where staff may require the use of FFP3 masks (NHS England and NHS Improvement, 29/10/2020)
- COVID-19: personal protective equipment use for non-aerosol generating procedures including posters and a video showing how to safely don (put on) and doff (take off) the personal protective equipment (PPE) (Public Health England, updated 21/08/2020)
- Facial hair and FFP3 respirators poster (26/02/2020)
- NHS Guidance on How to wash your hands (18/10/2019)
- Portable fans in health and social care facilities: risk of cross infection (NHS Improvement, 11/01/2019)
- Best Practice Hand Wash Poster
- Best Practice: management of blood and body fluid spillage
- Routine decontamination of reusable non-invasive patient care equipment
- Helping to prevent infection: A quick guide for managers and staff in care homes (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence)
- NHS Property Services: Alcohol-Based Hand Sanitiser – Vehicle Fires
- Highways England Safety Alert: Alcohol Based Hand Sanitiser
The NHS has set up a supply distribution helpline which can answer PPE calls and emails 24/7:
Phone: 0800 915 9964
- 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.
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.
- NHS Test and Trace: what to do if you are contacted (Department of Health and Social Care, updated 17/08/2021)
- NHS test and trace: workplace guidance (Department of Health and Social Care, updated 13/08/2021)
- NHS Test and Trace: how we test your samples (Department of Health and Social Care, updated 29/07/2021)
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
- How tests and testing kits for coronavirus (COVID-19) work (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, updated 05/10/2021)
- Coronavirus (COVID-19): getting tested (Department of Health and Social Care, updated 10/08/2021)
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:
- Book a test at a local Community Test Site – Check this map of test site locations, dates and times for the nearest service to you. You can also find the addresses of the sites using this link.
- Collect a home test kit from a local Community Test Site – You do not need to book to collect a test, but the tests will only be available for collection at specific times. Check this map of test site locations, dates and times for the nearest service to you.
- Get a test kit sent to your home – If you are unable to get to a test centre to collect a test kit you can order a home testing kit to be sent to your home. You can order a test online here.
- Collect a test from a pharmacy – A new pharmacy collect service is now available in Somerset with 99 pharmacies signed up and more to come online soon. You will be able to use this if you are over the age of 18 without symptoms. Participating pharmacies will provide a box of 7 rapid tests to use twice a week at home. Find a pharmacy where you can collect tests.
Local Information on getting tested
- Somerset County Council: Coronavirus – Getting tested
- Somerset County Council: Coronavirus – Get a test if you do not have symptoms
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)
Domiciliary Care Services (updated 23/04/2021)
Extra Care Housing and Supported Living Services (updated 19/07/2021)
Day Services (updated 27/08/2021)
Personal Assistants (27/08/2021)
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.
- 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.
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?
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com again should the situation escalate, as shown in the flowchart below
- Please ensure that GPs are informed of test results
Mental Capacity guidance:
- Testing patients does not bring any specific benefit to them as individuals, a positive or negative test does not of itself direct a change treatment. If an individual has symptoms suggested of COVID 19, they should be treated as positive. Therefore there are no decisions that can be made in the best interests of individuals to enforce testing where consent cannot be given and where the individual indicates that they do not wish to be tested. If a home has other positive cases, or if the individual is themselves symptomatic, the least restrictive approach in line with the Mental Capacity Act would be to assume they are positive, and use pragmatic isolation techniques and appropriate PPE. If a home has no cases and the individual is not symptomatic, it would be reasonable to assume they are negative and treat them in as they would all other residents. Local guidance has been produced to support care homes to apply the principles of consent and Mental Capacity to the Covid-19 test and a draft ethico-legal framework to support decision-making relevant to Covid-19 PCR testing in hospital in-patients who may lack capacity to consent.
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
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
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) testing in adult care homes – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) (Updated 29/09/21)
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) testing for adult social care settings (Department of Health and Social Care, 24/09/2021)
- Visitors to adult social care settings: reporting rapid lateral flow tests at home (Department of Health and Social Care, 28/04/2021)
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.
- Testing for professionals visiting care homes (Department of Health and Social Care, updated 29/09/2021)
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic: information for providers (updated 20/09/2020)
- Innovation and inspiration: examples of how providers are responding to coronavirus (COVID-19) (21/07/2021)
- Protect, respect, connect – decisions about living and dying well during COVID-19 (15/04/2021)
- Review of Do Not Attempt Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation decisions during the COVID-19 pandemic – Interim report November 2020 (02/02/2021)
- COVID-19: interim guidance on DBS and other recruitment checks (updated 29/05/2020)
- An update on how Care Quality Commission is monitoring the Mental Capacity Act and people who are subject to the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) during the coronavirus pandemic (21/05/2020)
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:firstname.lastname@example.org