Homecare workers to be tested weekly for coronavirus

The government has announced that care workers looking after people in their own homes will be offered weekly coronavirus tests.

The Department of Health and Social Care said that those working for CQC-registered providers will receive weekly PCR tests to administer at home, which will help identify more asymptomatic cases and protect care users who are more vulnerable to the virus.

Regular testing will give workers peace of mind by picking up on any asymptomatic transmission and protect those they care for. A month’s worth of test kits will be delivered to care providers directly who can distribute tests to their staff using the same channels used to distribute PPE.

Over 120,000 tests are already ring-fenced for social care every single day, and a testing pilot has begun in care homes this week to support visiting ahead of a national roll-out starting in December.

Minister for Care Helen Whately said: “Homecare workers have been doing an incredible job throughout the pandemic, caring day in and day out and going the extra mile to keep people they care for safe from Covid. As our testing capacity continues to expand, I’m glad we’re able to take this next step and make regular testing available to homecare workers. Now, as well as having PPE, homecare workers will be able to take a weekly test to check they do not have coronavirus. We now have the largest testing capacity in Europe, so we’re using this to protect those who are at greater risk if they catch Covid.”

Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “This is a much needed and positive expansion of testing to carers working in people’s homes, which councils and care providers have long been calling for. Homecare workers have not been able to access the same level of testing as their colleagues working in care homes, so this announcement should redress this balance. The further rollout of these tests to live-in carers and personal assistants also needs to happen as quickly as possible.

“We all need to do as much as we can to prevent the spread of coronavirus, particularly among our older and most vulnerable people, so this regular routine testing is a vital part of our defence. The Spending Review next week must also provide councils with the extra funding they need to help shore up social care ahead of winter and get through the second wave of Covid-19, while also using this as the basis for future reform of social care to place it on a long-term, sustainable footing.”