Updated 7 July 2021
Health, social care and other professionals may need to visit residents within care homes to provide services. This guidance sets out the testing policy for these ‘visiting professionals’.
This guidance should be implemented as soon as possible but we also understand that professionals and their employers will need time to get to grips with practical issues, such as how they will provide evidence to care homes. Therefore this guidance should be implemented by care homes and professionals by 22 March 2021 if not before. This provides care homes and professionals with time to put the necessary measures in place following the publication of the guidance.
Many visiting professionals work in a variety of different settings per day, including care homes. Given the substantial risks to care home residents if COVID-19 is introduced to the home, it is essential that professionals and all staff are tested regularly before visiting care homes to reduce the risk of transmission across different settings and to help keep residents and staff safe.
Care home managers have ultimate responsibility for the safety of their care home, including the residents and staff. This includes ensuring policies are followed, including infection control measures and testing.
For example, where care home staff complete their rapid lateral flow tests (LFTs) at home, the care home should have processes in place for staff to evidence they have been tested and what the result is.
The below provides further clarification regarding the policy for testing professionals who visit care homes and outlines how professionals visiting care homes can provide care homes with the necessary assurances.
Testing is, however, only one part of the approach to reduce risk. It will not identify every individual who is infected, and therefore a negative result does not prove someone is not infected with COVID-19. However, testing plays an important role by enabling the identification of a greater number of infectious individuals without symptoms who could be unknowingly passing the virus onto others, therefore helping keep care homes safe and safeguarding residents.
It is critical that visiting professionals put on and take off personal protective equipment (PPE) appropriately and follow the relevant infection control measures when visiting a care home, including hand hygiene and distancing, in order to help keep care home residents and staff safe.
To read the full update click here