Pilot for care home family members to get regular testing

Named family and friends may soon be able to regularly visit loved ones in care homes as a new testing pilot is launched.

The pilot is taking place in around 20 care homes across Hampshire, Cornwall and Devon from 16 November and will be rolled out more widely in December in time for Christmas. This has been made possible, in part, thanks to a huge expansion in the country’s testing capacity, which currently stands at over 500,000 per day.

Regular testing will be offered to one family member or friend per resident, which – when combined with other infection-control measures such as PPE – will support meaningful visits. These will enable, where possible, indoor visits without a screen to take place while reducing the risk to care home residents, staff and visitors.

Each care home receiving rapid lateral flow tests will receive a box of 675 initially and will be given access to more as required.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “I know how heart-breaking restricting visits to care homes has been, not only for residents, many of whom will feel disoriented and confused by the situation, but also their loved ones who aren’t able to simply hug each other to support them in this difficult time.

“Thanks to the expanding testing capacity we have in place we can now begin to trial a new way to allow safer visits to take place and prevent the spread of Covid-19. I must stress this is only possible if the public takes the right actions now to bring the transmission rate under control while national restrictions are in place. By respecting social distancing and staying at home as much as possible we will help reunite families and friends with loved ones in care homes as quickly as possible.”