COVID-19: Testing pilot to begin in care homes so family members can visit loved ones by Christmas

·2-min read

A new pilot is set to launch that will give family members the chance to visit loved ones in care homes over Christmas.

The scheme will take place in several homes in Hampshire, Cornwall and Devon from 16 November, in the hope it can be rolled out more widely before the festive period.

One family member or friend per resident will be offered regular testing - either the PCR home kits or a rapid lateral flow test at the care home - which is designed to be combined with PPE so that "meaningful visits" can be carried out without a screen.

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It means the risks to residents, staff and visitors is lowered, and indoor visits could be possible.

The pilot is forming part of the mass testing rollout across the UK, with each care home initially being given a box of 675 lateral flow tests.

The Department of Health and Social Care says that it will be then be rolled out across more homes, should the data support it, and tests will be ringfenced for the sector.

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Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: "I know how heartbreaking 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."

Minister for Care Helen Whately said: "As Christmas approaches, I want to bring an end to the pain of separation and help care homes bring families and loved ones together. The launch of visitor testing is a crucial step to making that happen."