The government has launched an online portal that enables care homes to arrange deliveries of coronavirus test kits, as it looks to step up its response to the sector’s COVID-19 crisis in the face of intense criticism.
For its part, the government says it is prioritising testing for care homes and other areas with the greatest need, with all symptomatic and asymptomatic care home staff and residents in England now eligible for testing. Testing will also be prioritised for care homes that look after the over 65s.
The move comes as Scotland unveiled a Wellbeing Hub for health and care staff across the NHS, social care, volunteers, plus families looking after relatives and friends.
PRoMIS is a collaboration between senior clinicians at the Rivers Centre for Traumatic Stress in NHS Lothian and The Anchor Psychological Trauma Service in NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde for looking after the emotional and psychological wellbeing of Scotland’s health and social services workers.
For the testing programme, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) is working with local authority Directors of Public Health, Directors of Adult Social Services and local NHS providers on delivery for care homes.
It claims ‘tens of thousands’ of care home workers and residents have already been tested, either by Public Health England or at drive-through testing sites, mobile testing units and via satellite testing kits – packages of tests sent to care homes for staff to use on residents.
Test results for residents will be communicated to the care home managers. This information will also be provided to councils in order to help manage coronavirus outbreaks in local areas.
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock said: “The additional testing capacity we have achieved delivers many thousands of tests a day for residents and staff in care homes.
“This new portal allows those who book tests for staff and residents to do so even more easily, and it also offers a route for the prioritisation of care homes with the greatest need.
“We will continue to grow our testing capacity, as we know the certainty and confidence that high quality testing can provide.”
Minister of State for Care Helen Whately said: “Care homes are on the frontline in the fight against COVID-19 and we are determined that staff have everything they need to keep themselves and their residents safe. Testing is a crucial part of this. It helps prevent and control outbreaks and means steps can be taken to reduce the spread the virus and protect the most vulnerable.
“By prioritising thousands of tests for care home staff and residents, we can target our national testing capacity in the areas and care homes with the greatest need.”